The last of the Great Indian Bustards in Gujarat, four females to be precise, survive in the Kutch region today. However, the Gujarat government is running out of patience when it comes to conservation of the species.
In its latest affidavit before the Supreme Court, the department of energy of the state has suggested that the four GIBs be translocated to a different region so that high tension power lines can be laid and renewable energy infrastructure set up across Kutch.
The only option available with the Gujarat government is to translocate the last of the GIBs to the breeding centre at Sam, in Jaisalmer, or the upcoming centre in Sorsan, Rajasthan.
The affidavit was filed on April 20 by undersecretary Dipesh Raj of the state government’s energy and petrochemical department. The second paragraph of clause 14 of his affidavit reads, “As per the information available, there are four female GIBs left in Kutch Area, therefore the option of re-locating the remaining GIBs may be explored. ”
According to an affidavit filed in the SC, between 2017 and 2020, six GIBs were killed after they collided with power lines in the two states. Gujarat had reported one GIB death each in 2014 and 2017 in Naliya of Kutch district. But senior experts of Wildlife Institute of India said that they had been warning Gujarat since 2013 when four male GIBs were present, but no remedial action was taken. None of the males survive now.
Raj further stated that the underground cables beneath the agricultural land may be unsafe for farmers as digging activities put them at risk of electrocution. The affidavit adds that magnetic field from the electric lines would expose many animals, plants and insects to these emissions.
Besides, the state government says that since the supply of bird diverters were limited, the rates would be high due to less competition. “The addition of bird diverter could be problematic for the phase wires in the long run as its weight would affect the strength of the conductor and may damage it,” according to the affidavit
While quoting Solar Power Developers Association, the SC was informed that 38,818 bird diverters were already installed on power lines near GIB habitats in the twin states and the process to install 33,453 more were on.
The Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited has already floated a tender for procuring 18,000 diverters.