Two new members – standing committee board member Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda and additional director general (wildlife) SS Garbyal – have also been included on the panel.
Dr Asad Rahmani, director of the Bombay Natural History Society and a board member, who was to work with Kishore Rithe, president, Satpuda Foundation (Amravati), has been replaced after he told the board that his presence on the team would amount to conflict of interest because he was working for the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), the nodal agency for the proposed airport.
Rither said the panel was expected to submit its report before the meeting of the standing committee of the board in June-July.
The committee's approval is a must for any project that has a protected wildlife area within 10km of its site.
The visit assumes significance because the environment impact assessment report filed by Cidco had stated that the location of the airport was 12.5km from the Karnala bird sanctuary.
Cidco has received all required clearances except for the final approval for forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The environment clearance came in November 2010. The agency expects to start the construction work within a year.