MoEFCC Requests Cooperation From Power Ministries To Save GIB
On January 7,2019, exactly a month after the the collaborative campaign to save the Great Indian Bustard was launched by Conservation India, The Corbett Foundation and Sanctuary Nature Foundation, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sent urgent communications to Rajasthan, Gujarat and the Ministries of Power, and New and Renewable Energy on the issue.
Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
In his letters, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment C.K. Mishra highlighted the critically endangered status of the Great Indian Bustard and the threat posed to them by overhead power lines in their habitat. Mr. Mishra requested the Chief Secretaries of the two states of Rajasthan and Gujarat to “issue necessary directions to power transmission line agencies and wind energy farm developers to identify critical power transmission lines and wind energy farms passing through the GIB habitats in Rajasthan, Gujarat and other states in consultation with the WII” and to take up the recommended mitigation measures such as “putting up bird diverters on the conductors, painting of vane tips of the wind turbines and undergrounding of <66 KV transmission lines”.
Secretary Mishra’s appeal to the Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy mentioned that “attempts made by the (Environment) Ministry for saving the GIB from its extinction will go in vain unless active support from your Ministry is received”. He thus urged Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Shri Anand Kumar, respectively the Secretaries of the Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to direct power transmission line agencies and wind farm developers to undertake suggested power line collision mitigation measures and “ direct the concerned senior officers of your ministry, PGCIL and CEA, not below the rank of Joint Secretary, to participate in the meetings of the Task Force so that appropriate decisions regarding taking up required mitigation measures including undergrounding of the power transmission lines can be taken up by the Task Force”.
The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard has disappeared from over 90 per cent of its former range. Fewer than 150 individuals survive today, the majority of which live in the fragmented grasslands of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Collision with overhead power lines has proved to be the most serious threat to the survival of this species. Based on ground surveys, the Wildlife Institute of India estimates that 15 per cent of the global population of Great Indian Bustards succumbs to power line collisions every year. At this rate, the GIB could go extinct as early as 2020. The campaign launched by Conservation India, The Corbett Foundation and Sanctuary Nature Foundation has generated an unprecedented wave of support for the conservation of this iconic species. The campaign urges India’s Minister of Power to replace overhead power lines with underground cables in GIB habitats. The petition on this matter has received over 10,000 signatures, wide media coverage and placed pressure on those in authority to enact conservation interventions that were promised years ago. The campaign has also buoyed the morale of scientists who have been struggling to conserve the GIB for decades without public or political support.
To add your strength to the campaign, sign the petition on the Conservation India website.