Ever since the industrial revolution the 18th century, conflict between the machine and nature have only been increasing day by day. In a similar tussle between the need to protect ecology and present day need for the advancement of civilisation, The Government of India has pleaded to the Supreme Court to list for hearing a request to modify the order it passed earlier and urged the court to allow overhead high voltage and extra high voltage lines in Great Indian Bustard Habitat to be laid as with installation of appropriate mitigation measures such as bird diverters.
Seeking to protect the endangered species, the Great Indian Bustard having it’s natural habitat in the large parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Supreme Court had passed an order directing that all overhead transmission cables in the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) be laid underground.
Now, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has pleaded before Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and requested him to list it for hearing, saying that the area falling in Rajasthan and Gujarat contains a big part of the country’s total solar and wind energy potential and if the Supreme Court’s earlier order is implemented as it is, the cost of renewable energy production will be accelerated considerably and will hurt India’s renewable energy commitments to the world badly,
The government has made several points in it’s request to have a relook at the order passed by a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India S A Bobde. For one, it has stated that energy transition is essential for reducing emission and controlling climate change. Secondly, India has made international commitments including under the agreement signed in Paris in 2015 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for transition to non-fossil fuels and for emission reduction. The target set for itself by India is to install renewable energy capacity (excluding large Hydro) of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.
Th application filed jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Ministry of Power and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has pointed out that the MNRE was not heard before the order was passed. and that there are several technical difficulties in laying the underground cables as there is no manufacturer of underground/ insulated cables for 765 kV in the world.
As per the Supreme Court orders, the debarred area in Rajasthan and Gujarat is 80,688 km in which the present habitat of GIBs occupies only 1% of it. Also, it contains a vast proportion of the total solar and wind energy potential of the country and the cost of undergrounding medium/ low voltage lines over such a large area will be prohibitive as high voltage line are not feasible.
Only around 3 percentage of the estimated potential of around 263 GW renewable energy of the region is tapped and if the remaining potential remains untapped, we will need an additional 93,000 MW of coal fired capacity to replace the unutilised renewable energy which would cause an adverse impact on the ecology, the government has said.
The government has also said that MoEF&CC, Rajasthan government and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have established a conservation breeding facility in Desert National Park at Jaisalmer.