Supreme Court asks for report on underground laying power cables for protecting Great Indian Bustard

Anushka Mansharamani

The Supreme Court directed K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General, to submit an authentic report on the underground laying power cables.

The bench was headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and composed of Justice A. S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian.

This direction was made while hearing a plea that was filed by retired IAS officer M.K. Ranjitsinh.

This plea was related to the death of a number of endangered Great Indian Bustard due to collisions with high-voltage power lines.

The matter was further adjourned by 2 weeks.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing the petitioners, stated that the submission of black and white maps as directed by the court have been submitted.

The bench observed that there was wide discrepancy on laying down underground cables and thereby asked K.K. Venugopal to submit a detailed report on the same and take suggestions from the parties.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests stated before the Court that according to them there was no other option available but to lay power cables underground to protect the Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican.

The bench stated that, “This is a larger bird which fly in a particular direction. To avoid power lines coming in the direction of flight path of the bird, it would be appropriate if they are laid down underground. Necessary changes can be made in the contract with the private companies for laying down underground cables.”

Advocate Sugandha Yadav, Advocate Shatadru Chakraborty, and Advocate Sonia Dube, representing the petitioners submitted the terms of reference which were to be reviewed by the panel appointed by the Court.

The Apex Court on the other hand had asked The Ministry of Environment and Forests to look into the terms of reference submitted and file an affidavit on the same.

The Counsel representing petitioners recommended Sutirtha Dutta, a scientist, Thulasi Rao, Director of the Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Board and Samad Kottur, a lecturer in a government college in Karnataka to be included in the panel appointed by the Supreme Court.

This recommendation was made as they deal largely with the Lesser Florican.

The bench lastly, accepted the recommendations made and directed the inclusion of the three experts to the panel.