The Supreme Court has set up an high-level committee to examine the feasibility of under-grounding of over-head transmission power lines in Rajasthan and Gujarat in order to protect Great Indian Bustard from extinction. Only 150 critically-endangered species are reportedly left in India, out of which around 90 per cent are found in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
“In cases where it is possible to lay powerlines under ground it must be done within one year,” the three-judge bench of Chief Justice AS Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian said.
The Supreme Court also directed installation of diverters to protect the birds from colliding with the high voltage power lines.
Centre, however, had said that it is not feasible to lay high transmission lines underground.
In 2019, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) had said that the Great Indian Bustards are dying at the rate of 15 per cent annually due to collision with high voltage power lines, adding that their population has been reduced by 75 per cent in the last 30 years.
The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
They are primarily terrestrial birds with adult males as tall as 122 cm and weigh 11-15 kg and adult females reach up to 92 cm and weigh 4-7 kg, the WII said.