Great Indian Bustard habitat: Govt urges SC to modify order on underground cables

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The center has asked the Supreme Court to amend its ruling that all transmission cables in habitats of the great Indian bustard (GIB) must be laid underground, stating that the areas falling in Rajasthan and Gujarat contain most of the total solar energy in country. and the potential of wind power, a process that will escalate the cost of generating renewable energy and hurt India’s renewable energy business.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referred to the petition before the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and urged him to put him on the hearing list. CJI said he would consider this.

In an effort to contain the decline in the endangered Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florian Bustard, the Supreme Court Panel, led by then Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, on April 9, ordered overhead power lines to be laid underground where possible. passing through bird habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Jointly filed by the Ministry of the Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC), the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the SC direction “has serious adverse impacts on energy … the sector in India and the energy transition from fossil fuels ”, and that the Ministry of Natural Resources was not heard before the order was passed.

The government has stated that the energy transition is essential for reducing emissions and controlling climate change, and India has made international commitments, including through an agreement signed in Paris in 2015 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC), on the transition to non-fossil fuels and to reduce emissions. It added that India has set a target to achieve an installed capacity of renewable energy sources (excluding large hydropower plants) of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.

The petition argued that “the exclusion area in Rajasthan and Gujarat is 80,688 km2 … and the current habitat of the GIBs is protected by fences that occupy only 1% of its area … The excluded area … also contains a very large portion of the area.” the total solar and wind energy potential of the country and, in particular, has a very high solar irradiance. Underground high-voltage power lines is technically impossible. Underground lines of medium / low voltage on such a large area will lead to a high cost of renewable energy produced in this area … “

The government indicated that “so far only a paltry 3 percent of the estimated 263 GW of renewable energy has been tapped in this area” and that “if the remaining potential remains untapped, we will need an additional 93,000 MW of coal. burned capacity to replace unused renewable energy sources in the future, which will have a direct adverse impact on the environment. “

The government said that in order to ensure the conservation of the GIB and its habitat, MoEF & CC has developed National Bustard Restoration Plans, which are currently being implemented by conservation agencies. MoEF & CC, the Rajasthan government and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) also opened a conservative breeding facility in the Jaisalmer Desert National Park in June 2019.

It stated that the GIB threat arises from a variety of reasons that require action at the central, state and local levels, spanning various sectors. The appeal also pointed to several technical difficulties in the implementation of the project, since “there is no manufacturer of underground / insulated cables for 765 kV in the world”.

He called on the court to allow the laying of high and extra-high voltage lines, i.e. 66 kV and above transmission lines in Priority GIB Habitat as overhead transmission lines with appropriate mitigation measures such as bird control devices installed.



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