Author: Saumya Verma, B.A.LL.B (H), LL.M (IPR) from Gujarat National Law University, Gujarat
ENVIRO-NEWS ANALYSIS OF NEWS HEADLINES “INSTALL BIRD DIVERTERS IN POWER LINES BY JULY 20 : SUPREME COURT DIRECTS GUJARAT & RAJASTHAN TO PROTECT GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD ”PUBLISHED IN LIVELAW.COM DATED 23.04.2022.
In a recent news The Supreme Court has directed the power producers in Gujarat and Rajasthan to take necessary steps to ensure timely completion of installation of bird diverters in power transmission lines to protect the endangered birds Great Indian Bustard from deaths due to collision.The court also directed the committee to formulate the standards of quality required for bird diverters in consultation with the Central Electricity Authority within a month. It ordered state governments and private power companies to take necessary steps to maintain uniformityand install the diverters on overhead power lines, directing them to submit a compliance report before nest date of hearing. The purpose of setting bird diverters is to divert them from changing their course and come out of their habitats. The GIBs generally weigh 14 to 15 Kgs which are able to reach up to 4 Feet.It makes them too heavy to change the course when they wander to power lines. The first of such bird diverter was set up in in Sam, Jaisalmer which is a conservation breeding center.
The Great Indian Bustard so known as Ardeotis nigriceps is one of the heaviest flying birds of Indian grasslands with some occurrence in the bordering areas of Sindh and Cholistan in Pakistan, where it is unfortunately hunted. It is one such wildlife which has been categorized critically endangeredby IUCN.Where great Indian Bustard were present in every dry plain of India, now only a few are left. Between 1969 to 2008 its number decreased from 1260 to 300.Presently, only 150 of it are left across Rajasthan and as low as 10 in the areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.The biggest threat to the lives of Great Indian Bustard comes from industrial development, mining hunting and intensive agriculture. Recent report of WII revealed that GIB preferred grasslands and agricultural fields of “sorghum, groundnuts and Pigeon Pea”.The lives of GIBs are also threatened by stray dogs which attacks on their eggs.It may be observed that there is lack of coordination between Indian States when it comes in protecting grasslands which is the natural habitat of huge number of fauna present in our country.Also, the corruption and mismanagement of the Bird Sanctuaries is responsible for the endangerment of GIBs species.
Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution puts us all under duty to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife. According to Art.48 A, the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibits the hunting of any wild animal specified in Schedules I, II, III and IV of the act. The central government has been empowered to constitute any area as a Sanctuary, provided the area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance. The Wildlife Protection Act provides for establishment of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). National Board for Wildlife is an apex body for monitoring of all wildlife-related matters and it provides approval of projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.It is chaired by Prime Minister and works for conservation and protection of wildlife. Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the Vice-Chairperson of the board. The constitution of the board is advisory in nature. It advices the government on the matters of conservation and preservation of wildlife. There are State Boards for Wildlife also which are headed by respective Chief Ministers. The Act also provides for the establishment of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.It collects the data pertaining to crime against wildlife going on in various states and the collected data is sent to the respective states to apprehend criminals. It establishes a centralized wildlife crime data bank. It aids states in wildlife prosecution. Schedule I Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972 lists down The Great Indian Bustard as the critically endangered species. The species under Schedule I are granted protection against poaching, killing and hunting. If anyone is found in practice of poaching, killing and hunting of such animals, harshest penalties are imposed on them under the Wildlife Protection Act. On International level The Great Indian Bustardis included in Appendix I of CITES as Critically Endangered and the IUCN Red List and the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016).
Taking into consideration of the fact that only a few GIBs are left.It is an urgent need for action in consonance of the apex court guidelines to install bird diverters to protect the GIBs species. In addition to this government is urged to start “Project Bustard” in the lines of “Project Tiger” in not only in Rajasthan but the whole country with an aim to conserve all species of Bustards in India. Government should conserve the natural habitats, Bustards. Decreasing number of Bustards is a wakeup call to establish a greater number of Bustard conservation areas and setting up an efficient team to monitor Bustard conservation areas. Long term researches should be encouraged in regards to the conservation of GIBs. Educational material and oral announcements regarding the safety and conservation of Bustards should be encouraged. Bustard Habitat Conservation should be integrated with national Grazing Policy. There is one conservation breeding facility at Desert National Park in Rajasthan. Government should organize more such conservation breeding facilities. Lastly, time is ripe to understand that the health of humans, animals and ecosystem is interdependent, to protect humans we need to value the conservation of all the animals and thereby whole ecosystem.
Live Law, Install Bird Diverters In Power Lines By July 20 : Supreme Court Directs Gujarat & Rajasthan To Protect Great Indian Bustard, (Apr. 23, 2022), www.livelaw.in/top-stories/install-bird-diverters-in-power-lines-by-july-20-supreme-court-directs-gujarat-rajasthan-to-protect-great-indian-bustard-197334. Install bird diverters on overhead power-lines by July 20: Supreme Court to Rajasthan, Gujarat, (May 10, 2022), www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/instal-bird-diverters-on-overhead-power-lines-by-july-20-supreme-court-to-rajasthan-gujarat-82750. Edit History, great Indian bustard, Britannica www.britannica.com/animal/great-Indian-bustard. https://india.mongabay.com/2018/05/the-great-indian-bustard-stands-on-the-brink-of-extinction/ The great indian bustard stands on the brink of extinction, Mongabay (2018), https://india.mongabay.com/2018/05/the-great-indian-bustard-stands-on-the-brink-of-extinction/ (last visited Sep 19, 2022). The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.