The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has proposed that only power lines below 33 KV need to go underground and the rest be fitted with bird-diverters. Conservationists have objected to the proposal by saying that the move could lead to the “extinction” of the Great Indian Bustards.



  • Recently, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) issued Draft Central Electricity Authority (Construction of Electric Lines in Great Indian Bustard Area) Regulations, 2023.
      • CEA is India’s apex power regulator. It seeks to make technical standards & regulations in the power sector of the country.
      • CEA is primarily responsible for standards related to safety of power grid.
  • According to this, all electric lines of 33 kV and below passing through the ‘Great Indian Bustard Area’ will be underground, while those above 33KV will be overhead lines installed with bird flight diverters.
  • The petitioners in the Supreme Court case have objected to the regulations.
      • As per them, this regulation is in direct violation of the court’s directives and a threat to the endangered species.
      • They have also claimed that the overhead power lines are the biggest threat to the birds.


About the ‘Great Indian Bustards

  • The Great Indian Bustard, found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, is the flagship grassland species of India.
  • It is one of the largest flying birds in the world, and Indias heaviest flying bird.
  • The male bird weighs upto 12-15 kg and female bird up to 5-8 kg.
  • Physical description — Black crown on the forehead contrasting with the pale neck and head. The body is brownish and the wings are marked with black, brown and grey.
  • Diet — They feed on grass seeds, insects like grasshoppers and beetles, and sometimes even small rodents and reptiles. The species primarily feed on meswak, sewan grass.
  • Distribution —
      • Its population of about 150 in Rajasthan accounts for 95% of its total world population.
      • They are mainly in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, including the Desert National Park which is the natural habitat of the species.
      • Grasslands of Kutch in Gujarat which is home to second-largest bustard population in India.
      • Arid regions of Maharashtra (Solapur), Karnataka (Bellary and Haveri) and Andhra Pradesh (Kurnool)
      • It is the State bird of Rajasthan.
  • Conservation status —
      • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,
      • Listed in Appendix I of CITES,
      • Listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • Breeding season — The breeding season spans from March to October.
  • Captive breeding —
      • The captive breeding of GIBs was taken up in the DNP through a project executed by the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in 2019.
      • As many as 24 GIB chicks are being reared in DNP by a team supported by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation of United Arab Emirates.
  • Threats —
      • Occasional poaching outside Protected Areas,
      • Habitat loss due to widespread agricultural expansion, infrastructural development such as irrigation, roads, electric poles, as well as mining and industrialisation,
      • Bustards, with their poor frontal vision and heavy bodies, have also died due to collision with high tension electric wires.


Supreme Court’s intervention

  • The Supreme Court in April 2021 ordered that all overhead power transmission lines in core and potential GIB habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat be made underground.
  • The SC also formed a three-member committee, including Devesh Gadhvi, the member of the bustard specialist group of IUCN, to help power companies comply with the order.
  • Again, in November 2022, the court sought reports from chief secretaries of the two states in six weeks on installation of bird diverters in priority areas.
  • It also asked them to assess the length of transmission lines that need to go underground.