The Supreme Court, while hearing a plea to protect the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), floated an idea of a “Project GIB”, in line with the Project Tiger.
About Great Indian Bustard
- The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is a large bird species mainly found in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorized this species as critically endangered.
- While the majority of the Indian subcontinent was the historic range of GIBs, the population is currently found only in 10 per cent of the subcontinent.
- GIBs, being one of the heaviest birds with flight, are found in grasslands. They spend most of their time on the ground, feeding on insects, lizards, grass seeds etc.
- Their presence is seen as an indicator of the health of grassland ecosystems.
- The GIB is currently on the verge extinction, with just 50 to 249 of these birds being present.
- The population is being mainly threatened because of the overhead power transmission lines. Due to their poor frontal vision, these birds cannot spot the power lines from a distance and are too heavy to change the course when they are close to the power lines. Therefore, these heavy birds collide with the cable and perish. According to the data from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), 18 GIBs die each year in Rajasthan after colliding with overhead power lines.
What are the SC’s efforts to conserve GIBs?
In 2021, the SC ordered the conversion of overhead electric cables into underground power cables wherever feasible in the core and potential habitats of GIBs in Rajasthan and Gujarat. It constituted a 3-member committee to assess the feasibility of laying high-voltage underground power cables.
The apex court directed the state governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan to install bird diverters (reflector-like structures strung on power cables) in priority areas. It also asked them to assess the total length of transmission lines that needs to go underground.