February 18, 2024
Supreme Court of India Strikes Balance Between Renewable Energy Development and Conservation of Endangered Species
Courts & Law Climate & Environment

Supreme Court of India Strikes Balance Between Renewable Energy Development and Conservation of Endangered Species

Supreme Court of India Strikes Balance Between Renewable Energy Development and Conservation of Endangered Species

Supreme Court of India Strikes Balance Between Renewable Energy Development and Conservation of Endangered Species

Balancing Solar Power Goals and GIB Preservation: SC’s Directive: Supreme Court Seeks Government Proposal in Three Weeks

In a crucial development, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre to propose a way forward that strikes a balance between the government’s commitment to generating solar power and the preservation of the endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB). The GIB, listed as Critically Endangered, faces threats, particularly in areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan, where it is predominantly found.

Challenges to Previous Orders and Government’s Dilemma

The Court’s directive comes in the wake of challenges from solar and wind energy companies, asserting that the implementation of the Court’s earlier order hinders their business. The Centre also expressed practical difficulties and substantial costs associated with adhering to the Court’s decision. Acknowledging India’s renewable energy goals, the Court emphasized the need for a balanced approach.

Government’s Comprehensive Report Requested

The Chief Justice of India, Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, gave the Attorney General three weeks to submit a comprehensive status report. The report should outline the Union government’s steps to preserve the GIB while ensuring the availability of solar power, aligning with India’s international commitments. The Court aims to find a solution that harmonizes environmental conservation and developmental goals.

Concerns Raised Over Bird Diverters and Undergrounding

The Court questioned the efficacy of bird diverters, emphasizing that any order should be “judicially manageable.” It sought the government’s proposal by February 9, considering the practical difficulties highlighted by solar energy producers. The associations estimate a staggering ₹55,000 crore cost for laying underground cables, raising concerns about its feasibility.

Call for Scientific Study and Global Practices

While awaiting the government’s response, the Court questioned the scientific study on the effectiveness of bird diverters and urged the government to consider global practices. The chief secretaries of Rajasthan and Gujarat were directed to provide an updated status report, and a three-member expert committee will submit an updated report on the feasibility of underground power cables.

Preserving GIB Amidst Development Goals

The GIB’s habitat in Rajasthan and Gujarat is crucial for both conservation and renewable energy development. The Court’s directive seeks to navigate the delicate balance between preserving a critically endangered species and achieving India’s renewable energy targets.

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