The NGT has directed the formation of a Joint Committee to mitigate measures for protecting the Great Indian Bustard (GIB). The Purpose of the committee is to prepare a time bound action plan to ensure the survival of the critically endangered specie, as per Schedule-I to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The Principal Bench was hearing a plea filed by the NGO Centre for Wildlife and Environment Litigation (CWEL) through its Secretary Bhanu Bansal seeking conservation of GIB to save them from extinction.
Although the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has started the project called "Habitat Improvement of Great Indian Bustard-An Integrated Approach", the population of the GIB has been decreasing at an alarming rate, and majority of the ones remain in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
The MoEF&CC was asked to prepare a 'factual report' by the NGT, on the allegation of inadequate measures in place to protect the GIB. The report, submitted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), acknowledged the problem that adult mortality of the GIB is still very high due to collisions with power-lines that crisscross their fly paths.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the MoEF&CC, set up in 1982 for the purpose of conservation and management of wildlife resources.
The report submitted by WII had suggested some recommendations to protect the GIB such as, mitigating all power transmission lines passing through priority bustard habitats identified by WII after necessary approvals from the Rajasthan Energy Department, by undergrounding cables, develop predator-proof enclosures in known breeding sites and keep away nest predators such as dogs, pigs, foxes and other species using professional trappers. The report also suggested that the Rajasthan Forest Department (RFD) could engage with local communities to promote Bustard friendly agricultural practices and grow crops that are preferred by them.
On the basis of the WII's report, NGT decided that the recommendations needed to be acted upon, which required preparation of a time bound action plan. Accordingly, the Principal Bench directed the formation of a joint Committee comprising members such as Director General, Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Central Government and nominees of Energy Departments of Gujarat and Rajasthan within two months.
The Bench further held that a compliance report of the action plan is to be furnished to the Principal Bench before the next date by e-mail at [email protected] and listed the matter for further consideration on 13th December, 2019.