Explained: Why Supreme Court of India Recalls it Order on Great Indian Bustard?

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The Supreme of India in its order dated March 21,2024 tries to balance the need for the preservation of the GIB with the need for sustainable development, especially in the context of meeting the international commitments of the country towards promoting renewable sources of energy.

New Delhi (ABC Live): On March 21, 2024, the Supreme Court of India revised its previous directives issued on April 19, 2021, aimed at safeguarding two endangered bird species, namely the Great Indian Bustard (referred to as 'GIB') and the Lesser Florican.

The court's decision came in response to concerns raised in a petition highlighting the threat posed by overhead power lines to these bird species, resulting in fatal collisions.

Following deliberations, on April 19, 2021, the apex court instructed the Union of India and state authorities to replace existing overhead power lines with underground alternatives for transmitting electricity. Additionally, the court mandated the installation of divertor devices in areas identified as potential habitats for the Great Indian Bustard until all overhead lines were replaced.

In its latest ruling on March 21, 2024, the Supreme Court modified its previous order by referencing the national commitment to achieve 50 percent of the cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. This commitment was cited as a reason for relaxing the earlier directives aimed at protecting the Great Indian Bustard, in alignment with the nation's targets for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

As per the revised directions outlined in Paragraph 68 of the court's order dated March 21, 2024, it states, "The injunction imposed in the April 19, 2021 order regarding priority and potential areas shall be lifted, provided that the Expert Committee appointed by this Court may establish suitable parameters for both priority and potential areas." This implies that there will be no designated priority or potential areas for the protection of the Great Indian Bustard, and the replacement of overhead power lines with underground alternatives will not interfere with India's power transmission infrastructure.

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