The Great Indian Bustard
| Photo Credit: W. Sreelalitha

The Supreme Court on March 21 constituted an expert committee to balance the conservation and protection of the endangered Great Indian Bustard bird population with the country’s international commitments to promote renewable sources of energy.

The large-winged birds are on the brink of extinction, with one of the causes being frequent collision with high-powered power cables running adjacent to its core habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said a blanket direction given by the apex court in April 2019 for undergrounding high voltage and low voltage power cables required “re-calibration”.

The court appointed the Director, Wildlife Institute of India; wildlife and forest conservation experts, including Hari Shankar Singh, Niranjan Kumar Vasu, B. Majumdar, and Devesh Ghadvi; and Joint Secretary with the Renewable Energy Ministry Lalit Bohra and his counterpart in the Environment Ministry.

The committee would also include Ashok Kumar Rajput, Member, Power Systems, Central Electrical Authority, and P.C. Garg, Chief Operating Officer, Central Transmission Utility of India Limited as special invitees.

The remit of the panel would be to determine the scope, extent and feasibility of underground and overhead electric lines in areas identified as priority spots for the birds in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The committee will explore alternatives to balance sustainable development goals and conservation of the birds.

It could recommend additional measures to identify additional priority areas. The panel has to file its report in the apex court on or before July 31.

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