June 25, 2021

Protection Of Great Indian Bustards (GIB): Supreme Court May Order Under-grounding Of Low Tension Cables

first_imgTop StoriesProtection Of Great Indian Bustards (GIB): Supreme Court May Order Under-grounding Of Low Tension Cables Srishti Ojha15 March 2021 9:02 PMShare This – xSupreme Court on Monday observed that it can consider directing under-grounding of the low voltage transmission lines in states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and installation of Bird diverters in case of High transmission lines, for protection of the Great Indian Bustard. A three-judge Bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian made the observations while hearing the…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginSupreme Court on Monday observed that it can consider directing under-grounding of the low voltage transmission lines in states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and installation of Bird diverters in case of High transmission lines, for protection of the Great Indian Bustard. A three-judge Bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian made the observations while hearing the case regarding the decline of Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican. The petitioners are seeking laying of underground transmission lines which are fatal to the Great Indian Bustard, an endangered bird and installation of bird diverters for its protection.The Bench observed that in case of high voltage transmission lines which can’t be made underground, the court could direct installation of diverters even if recurring costs are high, and the low tension lines can be made underground.The Bench made these observations based on Attorney General KK Venugopal’s submissions that it’s not feasible to make high transmission lines underground, and Petitioner Counsel Sr Adv Shyam Divan’s submission that transmission lines need to be made underground as they are fatal to the endangered bird.During the hearing before the Court on Monday, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan submitted that the question for immediate consideration in the case is whether certain overhead lines passing through areas of the great indian bustard be made underground.”We made suggestions that they be converted in some areas from overhead to under-head lines, and in other areas Bird diverters can be installed. The Issue here is extinction of a bird, and that too a mega fauna.” Divan submitted.Divan, while taking the Court through Preamble and provisions of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, made submissions regarding funds to be made available for wildlife protection by the State. He stated that Section 6 states that money available in state fund be utilised for wildlife related infrastructure development, and wildlife protection and management.Divan further referred to Article 48A of the Directive Principle of State Policy, which states that the State shall endeavour to protect environment and wildlife.”Wildlife is directly a part of it” the Bench observed.Divan agreed and submitted that funds for Wildlife related infrastructure development according to us is clearly available, and the money should immediately be made available.Divan informed the Court that with respect to flamingos, who are also endangered species, this scheme has already been implemented, and undergrounding of the transmission lines has already been done. Schemes are required to be framed under the Act with expert institutions like the Wildlife Institution of India.”Can you tell us the amount involved?” the Bench asked.”The affidavit is filed through Ministry of Power. According to the affidavit, these are intra state transmission lines in the Great Indian Bustard area under jurisdiction of either Rajasthan or Gujarat. The Total expenditure for Rajasthan would be approx 415.40 crores. For Gujarat, the expenditure for diverters is 17 crores, for Under-grounding 31.33 . Therefore total expenditure for Gujarat is 38.33 crores” Divan submittedDivan submitted that the transmission Lines indicated in affidavit must be taken up on urgent basis and effected in shortest possible time. And bird diverters should be installed in these two states. The Power lines have already been identified.”In principle we see importance of making lines underground. We don’t think all lines must be made underground. We would like to see the corridor that the animals use, and would like to make those underground.” the Bench observed.Bench observed that it seems that recurring costs for installation of diverters becomes much more than costs for undergrounding. Bench asked AG Venugopal to assist them on this aspect.Bench to AG Venugopal “If recurring costs of bird diverters is more than under-grounding why go for that”AG Venugopal submitted that they will get the information.AG Venugopal submitted before the Court that undergrounding of the High power transmission lines may be technologically not feasible as compared to the low transmission lines.The bench also asked if there is a way to determine what lines are low transmission or high transmission.”Do we have statistics of proportion of high or low voltage lines?” bench asked.”Since you said high voltage lines can’t be made underground , we could possibly say, proportion which cannot be made underground, there then you can use diverters even if recurring costs are high.” the Bench observed.Bench further said “So we can say that low tension lines be made underground and in high tension lines, bird diverters be used. As a present advice, we will obviously hear the matter.”Divan further submitted that even existing transmission lines have to go underground, as long as they are low transmission.”Let us have atleast these transmission lines dealt with which everyone has recognised as fatal for the species.” Divan statedThe Bench agreed to consider the issue of transmission lines issue first followed by other issues like boundaries, etc.Senior Advocate AM Singhvi appearing for All India Solar Federation submitted that while they have no enmity with the bird, but 50,000 jobs are already in this sector along with one lakh crores investment. Therefore a Counter balance perspective has to be kept in mind.”We have no enmity with the bird. 50,000 jobs are already in this sector. There have been affidavits by States which’ve pointed out the good work. We need empirical data. ” Singhvi said.”This may become losing battle for Bustard if we say that steps we can take, we won’t take.” CJI remarkedSinghvi submitted that he is only saying that Counter balancing perspective should be taken.Bench observed that no body is saying anything about the form of generation, and are only dealing with the form of transmission.Sr Adv Shyam Divan in response to Mr Singhvi’s submissions stated that Mr Singhvi is appearing for a solar power generator, and the situation does not effect him.”His power has to be evacuated by transmission lines, and if its done underground or overground how does it matter to him.” Divan remarked.Supreme Court had in February 2020 noted that it appears that one of the hazards in relation to the Great Indian Bustard bird is the existence of power lines which are said to obstruct the flight path and said to kill the said bird upon collusion. It is well known that the Great Indian Bustard bird is a large bird and finds it difficult to maneuver easily in flight. One of the solutions might be, if the flight path of these birds in the area is determined and overheads lines are taken down and laid underground.The Court had directed inclusion of 3 more persons in the Expert Committee already formed by the Court. The court had in 2019 taken note of alarming extinction both the birds and had also constituted a high powered committee to urgently frame an emergency response plan and implement it for the protection of these species. The directions were issued in a plea filed by retired IAS officer MK Ranjitsinh and other wildlife activists seeking protection of Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican whose population had been sharply decliningNext Storylast_img

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