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Supreme Court Asks AG KK Venugopal To Consider Whether NGT’s Jurisdiction Can Be Extended To Wildlife Protection Act

first_imgTop StoriesSupreme Court Asks AG KK Venugopal To Consider Whether NGT’s Jurisdiction Can Be Extended To Wildlife Protection Act Mehal Jain15 Dec 2020 3:59 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court on Tuesday asked AG KK Venugopal if the jurisdiction of the NGT can be extended under the Wildlife Protection Act as well.The bench headed by CJ S. A. Bobde was hearing a petition seeking, inter alia, the installation of bird diverters on power lines and the undergrounding of overhead power transmission lines, besides restraint on establishment of windmills and…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court on Tuesday asked AG KK Venugopal if the jurisdiction of the NGT can be extended under the Wildlife Protection Act as well.The bench headed by CJ S. A. Bobde was hearing a petition seeking, inter alia, the installation of bird diverters on power lines and the undergrounding of overhead power transmission lines, besides restraint on establishment of windmills and solar infrastructure, in priority and potential habitat areas of the endangered Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican.When the bench was informed that the NGT is also seized of an identical issue, the CJ observed, “If the NGT is doing its job, why should we duplicate?”The bench was informed by Senior Advocate Shyam Diwan that while the Tribunal has jurisdiction under the Environment Protection Act and the Forest Act, its powers do not extend to the Wildlife Protection Act.”We will ask the AG to look into it. Will you do something about this, Mr. Attorney? It is a reasonable thing to be done”, asked the CJ.”It should have been done. I will take it up straightaway”, assured the AG.Mr. Diwan had placed on record a media report of September this year on how a female Bustard had come to die after crashing into a high-tension wire in Rajasthan and that the population of the endangered species was now down to hundreds.”Why don’t you join the licensee by whom the overhead line was erected for transmission of electricity? We can ask them to bear the costs of undergrounding these wires under Corporate Social Responsibility?”, asked the CJ. He was told that the company in question is already arrayed as a respondent.It may be noted that on July 15, 2019, the court had issued notice on the plea and considered it appropriate to appoint a Committee comprising the following members/society for the purpose of this petition: the Director, Bombay Natural History Society, Hornbill House, Mumbai; the former Director of Bombay Natural History Society and Member of the Governing Body of Wetlands International South Asia; the Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Admn. Protection & Intelligence, Nainital, Uttarakhand. Subsequently, on February 18, the bench had added 3 more members to the Committee.On Tuesday, Mr. Diwan submitted that while the Committee has been constituted, despite the urgency of the matter, the respondent-states have not responded and accordingly, the Terms of Reference for the Committee, as are already before the Court, may be issued by the Court.Questioning why the dual relief of both the installation of diverters as well as the undergrounding of power lines is required, the bench asked Mr. Diwan to place before it a map showing the areas of the Bustard habitat and the lines which should be made underground, marked in colour, so that a direction for undergrounding can be issued with regard to the specific areas and the specific lines.Thereafter, the AG informed the bench that last year the NGT was also seized of a OA concerning the Bustard and the Lesser Florican.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 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.”The report of the WII is a very elaborate report, covering every conceivable aspect”, advanced the AG on Tuesday.The bench required the report to also be shared with the petitioners. The bench also asked the AG to consider whether the jurisdiction of the NGT can be extended to the Wildlife Protection Act.Next Storylast_img read more

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