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Underground overhead power lines or install bird diverters: SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: To save the critically endangered Indian bustard and lesser florican from extinction, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan to install underground overhead power lines in the habitat areas of bird species in Kutch and Thar to avoid their collision deaths and install diverters Subway work completed.
“In all cases where overhead power lines exist as currently in GIB’s potential and priority area, respondents will need to take immediate action to install diverters pending consideration of converting overhead cables to power lines In all cases where it is considered feasible to convert overhead cables into underground power lines, the same will be carried out and completed in a period of one year and until that time the diverters will be hung from the existing power lines ” said a bank of the Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
This order was approved in a PIL submitted by environmentalist MK Ranjitsinh. GIB is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world, about a meter tall and with a wingspan of around two meters. The petitioner said that the bird species has disappeared from 90 percent of the habitat, except parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, which must be protected at all costs.
According to the petitioner, overhead power lines are the greatest threat to GIB’s survival. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in its report “Power Line Mitigation, 2018” had stated that every year 1 lakh of birds die due to collision with power lines. In terms of GIB, there have been six deaths in Thar during 2017-20, all due to high-voltage transmission lines, some of them connected to wind turbines. The Report concluded that unless power line mortality is urgently mitigated, the extinction of IBCs is certain.
The Union Ministry of Energy told the SC in its affidavit that “GIB lacks frontal vision. Because of this, they cannot detect power lines in front of them, from afar. As they are heavy birds, they cannot maneuver through power lines within close distances. Therefore, they are vulnerable to collision with power lines. In the case of low-voltage lines, electrocution is often the cause of death due to the shorter phase separation distance to phase. High-voltage lines do not cause death due to electrocution, but they do cause death by collision. ”
The bank said: “We are aware that the laying of the underground power line, more particularly high voltage, although not impossible, would require a technical evaluation on a case-by-case basis and a general conclusion that establishes a uniform method and directions cannot be reached. It cannot be issued without taking into account the situation of the facts. ” However, he said that all future low-voltage power lines would be installed underground in GIB’s potential habitat and that existing low-voltage overhead power lines would go underground within a year.
Regarding the high voltage power lines to be built underground, the SC formed a three-member committee consisting of Rahul Rawat, a scientist in the ministry of new and renewable energy, Sutirtha Dutta, a scientist at the Indian Wildlife Institute in Dehradun and Devesh Gadhari, deputy director of the Corbett Foundation.
“In cases where respondents consider that there are problems related to the feasibility (of pushing overhead power cables underground), the matter will be referred to the committee with all relevant material and details. The committee will evaluate the matter and reach a conclusion as to whether the underground power line is feasible or not. Based on the report that the committee will render, the defendant must take new measures, “he ordered.

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