KARWAR: A Central team comprising two senior officials of the Department of Environment and Forests, Harapanahalli and Reddy, visited Belekeri port. The visit assumes significance in the backdrop of complaints by local people that a few private companies engaged in exporting iron and manganese ore had been violating environmental norms while stacking the ore at the port.

The team members interacted with villagers and officials. The villagers complained that Mallikarjun, Salgaonkar and Adani companies had built jetties near the port in violation of CRZ rules. They had reclaimed land from the sea to build the jetties. Regional officer of the department of environment Vasant Kumar said CRZ 1 & 2 had been encroached upon to build the jetties. According to Mr. Kumar, 40 acres of land had been encroached. A report had been sent to the Government.

The villagers complained that well water had been polluted and people had been suffering from breathing problems owing to accumulation of dust in the stacking area. However, the representatives of the companies tried to defend their action stating that they had already got permission from the department concerned.

A few youngsters tried to obstruct president of Belekeri Gram Panchayat Ekanath Jambavalikar, while he was explaining to the team the damage to the environment. The police whisked the youngsters.