IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


30th March, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://hindicurrentaffairs.adda247.com/conservation-plan-for-great-indian-bustards/

Context: The Supreme Court is overseeing the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) through a series of orders and directions aimed at minimising the risks to this critically endangered bird species, particularly overhead electricity lines.

Supreme Court's 2021 Judgement

  • In 2019, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking protection for the GIB.
  • The 2021 decision acknowledged the Ministry of Power's admission that GIBs are vulnerable to collisions with power lines due to their lack of frontal vision.
  • The court ordered the installation of bird diverters on existing overhead power lines to alert birds and reduces collisions.
  • For future projects, the court considered the possibility of undergrounding power lines in 'priority' GIB habitat areas, subject to technical evaluation.

Challenges Raised in 2024

  • In January 2024, energy companies raised concerns about the practical and financial challenges of implementing underground power lines in identified GIB habitat areas.
  • The Union government highlighted the need to balance GIB conservation with renewable energy efforts.

Supreme Court's Response in 2024

  • In March 2024, the court considered the proposal of creating a technical committee under the Ministry of Power to assess the feasibility of undergrounding power lines.
  • The court suggested identifying a 'critical' area for undergrounding power lines to address conservation concerns while accommodating energy needs.
  • Both parties were directed to provide names for a committee to further address the GIB conservation issue.

Formation of the Committee

  • In March 2024, a seven-member committee was constituted by the Supreme Court.
  • The committee's mandate includes suggesting conservation measures for the GIB, identifying areas for power line construction, and assessing areas vital for GIB conservation.
  • The committee is tasked with submitting a report by July 31, and the court has lifted the blanket restriction against constructing underground power lines pending the committee's recommendations.

Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the heaviest flying birds globally.
  • It is the largest native bustard found in the Indian subcontinent.

Threats to the Great Indian Bustard

  • Habitat Loss: Conversion of grasslands for agriculture, infrastructure development (roads, power lines), and industrialization are significant threats. Increased irrigation projects also fragment and degrade their habitat, making it difficult for them to find food and nesting sites.
  • Collisions: High-tension power lines and fast-moving vehicles pose a major threat to these large birds, with wingspans reaching up to eight feet. Their inability to detect overhead wires or their tendency to be startled by oncoming traffic can lead to collisions and fatalities.
  • Hunting and Poaching: Though illegal, hunting and poaching for meat and sport continue to be threats, particularly outside protected areas. The misconception that these birds are agricultural pests also contributes to this problem

Conservation Efforts

  • Habitat Restoration: Efforts are underway to restore degraded grasslands and create corridors between fragmented habitats to allow for movement and gene flow between populations. This can involve reseeding native grasses, controlling invasive species, and working with local communities to promote sustainable land management practices.
  • Captive Breeding Programs: While challenging, captive breeding programs aim to reintroduce healthy populations into the wild. These programs require careful management to ensure genetic diversity and prepare birds for survival in the wild.
  • Public Awareness: Raising public awareness about the importance of the GIB and its threats is crucial for garnering support for conservation initiatives. This can involve educational campaigns, community outreach programs, and ecotourism initiatives that promote the value of these magnificent birds.


  • The Supreme Court's oversight involves striking a balance between GIB conservation and renewable energy development through measures such as installing bird diverters and exploring the feasibility of undergrounding power lines in critical areas. The formation of a committee aims to address these complex issues comprehensively and ensure the long-term protection of the Great Indian Bustard.


Q. Consider the following statements in the context of the Great Indian Bustard:

1. Their ideal habitat includes open grasslands with short shrubs.

2. They are extensively hunted for their meat and feathers.

3. It is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

4. They prey on small mammals, controlling their populations.

How many of the above statements are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: C


Statement 1 is correct: Their ideal habitat includes open grasslands with short shrubs. These open areas provide them with a clear view of their surroundings, allowing them to spot predators and prey easily. Short grasses are especially preferred during the breeding season, as they offer less obstruction for their courtship displays.

Statement 2 is correct:  They are extensively hunted for their meat and feathers. Despite being protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, illegal hunting and poaching continue to be major threats to the Great Indian Bustard population.

Statement 3 is incorrect: It is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. This classification reflects the urgent need for conservation efforts to prevent the extinction of the Great Indian Bustard. Habitat loss due to the conversion of grasslands for agriculture and infrastructure development, collisions with power lines, and hunting are all significant threats to the species.

Statement 4 is incorrect: The Great Indian Bustard is an omnivore, but its diet primarily consists of insects, reptiles, and seeds. While they may occasionally consume small mammals, they are not major predators and don't play a significant role in controlling mammal populations. Their primary ecological contribution is likely seed dispersal through their droppings, which helps to maintain the health of grassland ecosystems.