New Delhi, Oct 11: The committee of eminent persons constituted by the Centre to look into the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project held its first meeting here today.
All the members of the committee were present in today"s meeting.
The Government has sought three months time from the Supreme Court to examine the Sethusamudram project.
The Committee has invited objections and suggestions, including from the writ petitioners in the cases in the Supreme Court, on the project.
It will then consider suggestions, proposals and documents after giving them a personal hearing.
The 560 million dollars project that will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic, has been opposed to by the conservationists and the Hindu organisations.
Opposing the project, while conservationists and local fishermen say the increased freight traffic will harm marine life and threaten the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in both countries; the Hindu organisations say the project would destroy the mythical Ram Sethu, a 48- kilometre chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka.
The ten-member committee constituted to look into the matter is headed by University of Madras Vice-Chancellor Prof. S. Ramachandran, who is also the Chairman of Monitoring Committee on Environmental Impact Issues.
The committee comprises of former Professor of History at the Delhi University
Prof. R S Sharma; Aqua Culture Foundation of India President Dr. M. Sakthivel; former Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board Prof. Dilip K. Biswas; former Director of Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, Dr. J.R.B. Alfred; Deputy Director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, Dr. S.R. Wate; former Vice-Chancellor of the Bharatidasan University, Tamil Nadu, Prof. P. Jagadeesan; former Vice-Chancellor of the Kakatiya University, Andhra Pradesh, Prof. Y. Vaikuntham; Director of the Deccan College, Pune Dr. K. Paddayya; and Managing Director of the Indian Ports Association, R K Jain.
The committee held detailed deliberation on the matter today.
It has decided to invite objections and suggestions by 5 p.m. on October 31 addressed to Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Post Graduate and Research Development Block, "Poompozhil", 5, Greenways Road, Chennai - 600 028.
The committee will give a personal hearing from October 29 to November 6 (on all days including holidays).
The period from November 4-6 has been kept for giving personal hearing to the petitioners.