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To save Great Indian Bustard, SC recommends underground powerlines, divertors

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New Delhi, April 19, 2021-
The Supreme Court on Monday directed formation of committee to evaluate feasibility of underground powerlines to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) from extinction.

A bench comprising Justices S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian noted that the laying of high-voltage underground power line would require expertise to assess its feasibility, and appointed a three-member committee comprising scientist Dr Rahul Rawat, Wildlife Institute of India’s Dr Sutirtha Dutta, and Deputy Director of the Corbett Foundation Dr. Devesh Gadhavi. “Irrespective of the cost factor the priority shall be to save the near extinct birds”, said the bench.

The bench noted that existence of overhead power lines has become a hazard due to which Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican on collision are getting killed.

The Committee’s primary focus would be to assess the feasibility of laying high-voltage powerlines underground. “keeping in view, the sustainable development concept and on striking a balance the protection of the rare species of birds is essentially to be made, the effort being to save every bird while at the same time allowing transmission of power in an appropriate manner”, noted the bench.

The top court said the areas where existing overhead powerlines are located, authorities should take steps forthwith to install divertors. The top court added for installation of transmission lines in future, a study should be undertaken on the feasibility of laying underground lines. “In all cases where the overhead powerlines exist as on today in the priority and potential GIB area the respondents shall take steps forthwith to install divertors pending consideration of the conversion of the overhead cables into underground powerlines”, said the top court.

The bench further added that in cases where it is found feasible to convert the overhead cables into underground powerlines it should be completed within a period of one year and till such time the divertors shall be hung from the existing powerlines.

The top court order came on a public interest plea seeking to protect two species of birds GIB and the Lesser Florican, which is on the verge of extinction. The plea contended the existence of overhead power lines is stated to have become a hazard due to which the said species of birds on collision are getting killed.

The bench has further directed that all low voltage powerlines falling under the habitat of GIB should be laid underground in the future.

“In addition to the death of the birds due to collision and electrocution, the conservation strategy also requires protecting the eggs of the said species of birds and the same being transferred to breeding centres for the purpose of hatching”, noted the bench. (Agency)

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