Powerlines in GIB habitat should go underground. 

The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard has disappeared from over 90% of its former range due to habitat loss, hunting, disturbance and lack of protection in many ‘lekking’ and nesting sites (see 2013 CI campaign). Now, overhead power transmission lines that crisscross its habitat are sounding the death knell of this low-flying, ground-dwelling species (see attached map). According to a study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), as many as 10 GIBs have lost their lives in collisions with power lines in the last decade alone (2007-2017). There is a solution — replace overhead power lines with underground cables. There is no time to lose! So, let’s urge the Minister of State (IC) for Power and New and Renewable Energy to act immediately. Please read and sign the letter below addressed to the minister.

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  • Sub: India's pride on the brink of extinction!

  • Shri. Raj Kumar Singh
    Minister of State (IC) 
    Ministry of Power, and New and Renewable Energy

    Hon’ble Minister,

    It is a matter of great pride that India is listed amongst the most biodiverse countries in the world. Our rich natural heritage includes diverse, wild habitats and many endemic species that are found nowhere else. It is even more remarkable that despite a human population of over 1.2 billion people, no wild species in the history of independent India has gone extinct. Given this record of conservation, we were shocked to learn that the endemic Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is now critically endangered and at threat of imminent extinction.

    In 1969, over 1,000 Great Indian Bustards roamed the country’s grasslands. Today, this beautiful bird has vanished from 90 per cent of its geographical range, and has a global population of fewer than 150 individuals. The majority of the surviving birds live in the fragmented grasslands of Rajasthan and Gujarat, along with a few individuals in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. 

    Though many of the threats to the Great Indian Bustard, such as habitat loss, are being addressed there is one swinging axe that could seal the bird’s fate. The overhead power transmission lines that crisscross GIB habitat are killing these low-flying, ground-dwelling birds. According to a study by the Wildlife Institute of India, 10 GIBs have lost their lives in power line collisions in the last decade (2007-2017). 

    The erection of power lines in and around GIB habitat is against the 2013 guidelines for the recovery of the species given by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Unfortunately, vital grasslands are not given the strict environmental scrutiny they deserve before developmental projects are sanctioned. India’s push towards renewable energy is laudable, but power transmission strategies need to be in line with this green vision and Bustard Recovery Guidelines. While private companies generate clean energy, it is up to India’s Ministry of Power, and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to ensure that this energy reaches its destination without causing extinction of any species. Fortunately, we have a solution. Overhead transmission lines can be placed underground. Yes, this is more expensive, but experts confirm that such an intervention has reduced mortality of another bustard species, the Great Bustard, in West Pannonia. This can work in India too.

    India is the only home of the Great Indian Bustard. Protecting this bird is a matter of national pride. We urge your ministry to dismantle overhead power lines and place them safely underground in and around GIB habitat on priority. The fate of this iconic species is in your hands, and we look forward to a public statement on your commitment to the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard in India.

    Yours truly,

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This Great Indian Bustard Campaign is a collaboration between Sanctuary Nature Foundation, The Corbett Foundation and Conservation India and will be officially launched at the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards, on December 7, 2018, in Mumbai, and will make an earnest appeal to an audience of concerned citizens and conservationists across the country.

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