The Rs. 35,000-crore Mangalore Special Economic Zone Project appears to have suffered a setback as a Central committee of experts has advised the Ministry of Environment and Forests against going ahead with Phase II of the project, according to information available on the website of the Ministry. At a meeting in New Delhi on February 27 and February 28 to discuss the issue of environment clearance for the project, the Expert Committee on Infrastructure and Miscellaneous Projects said, "The project should be restricted to only Phase I.' Phase I covers 1,800 acres of land which has been acquired by the promoters of the project. Land (2,035 acres) for Phase II is yet to be acquired. The company, Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited, has been facing opposition from various farmers' organisations and environmentalists as far as Phase II is concerned. The committee has come to the conclusion based on the recommendations of another sub-committee constituted by the Ministry which was entrusted with the responsibility of visiting Mangalore and inspecting the villages notified for the project. The inspection committee was sent to Mangalore after the Ministry took cognisance of the protests and objections against the proposed project. At the New Delhi meeting, the committee said that in view of the protests, the company should confine itself to Phase I of the project. However, the promoters of the project have requested the Ministry to consider the whole project (Phases I and II) saying that the Environmental Impact Assessment has been done for infrastructure on 2,035 acres of land as well. Guarding against any complacency, Lawrence D'Cunha, secretary of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, said, "This is only the first step towards victory. We are going to scale up our agitation and not relent until our lands are de-notified.' The samiti represents the four villages of Permude, Thenka Ekkaru, Delantha Bettu and Kuthethoor which have been notified for the second phase of the project.