Supreme Court Directs States to Assess Length of Overhead Power Lines in GIB Habitat

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The Supreme Court noted that the installation of bird diverters in the habitat of the endangered Great Indian Bustard, as proposed by the special committee appointed by it, is not yet complete and ordered Rajasthan and Gujarat to assess the total length of overhead transmission lines in the region.

The apex court’s observation and direction came during the hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) that was filed in 2019. The PIL had sought the Court’s intervention in saving the endangered bird species from the transmission lines being laid for solar projects.

The Supreme court further asked the Attorney General to seek instructions from the Central government on whether it is possible to conserve the GIB region by establishing a ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’ along the lines of ‘Project Tiger,’ LiveLaw, an online portal that reports on the legal matters, reported.

The Court has now asked the committee to submit an updated status report by the next hearing while ordering the two states to estimate the number of bird diverters in the region’s priority areas.

Last April, the top Court directed Gujarat and Rajasthan to install diverters in the GIB habitat and underground the overhead cables wherever feasible.

The Court was also informed that while Gujarat has started the process of shifting overhead transmission lines underground, Rajasthan was yet to undertake the exercise.

The Court’s observation

“Once the updated status report of the committee is submitted, a further view can be taken. An updated status report shall be filed within the next four weeks. All bird diverters shall comply with the quality required by the committee appointed by this Court, [sic],” the Court said.

In February 2019, the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife suggested guidelines for installing bird diverters on the conductors of the power transmission lines.