The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought assistance of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to examine whether the jurisdiction of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) could be extended under the Wildlife Protection Act as well.
The remarks were made by a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde during the hearing of a plea seeking installation of bird diverters and underground cabling with a view to protect endangered bird species – the Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican. The AG assured the top court that he would examine the matter without any delay.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioner M.K. Ranjitsinh, who is a retired IAS officer, submitted the NGT is also seized of an identical plea. At this, the bench said that if the matter is already under consideration in the tribunal, then why create multiplicity of litigation.
Divan contended that the green tribunal has jurisdiction under the Environment (Protection) Act and the Forest (Conservation) Act, but it lacks jurisdiction under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The bench asked Divan why petitioner has not arraigned the power company and emphasised the court could ask the company to take the cost of underground cabling. Divan, citing last year’s order passed by the court, said constitution of an expert committee is done and terms of reference may be issued for the panel.
The bench asked Divan to mark the habitat area of the Great Indian Bustard and also routes where power transmission cables can be made to go underground.
The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing in second week of January.
On February 18, this year, the Supreme Court had stepped in to save the habitat of the the Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican – by asking the Rajasthan government and other authorities concerned to draw-out a time-frame to remove overhead high-voltage power lines and instead lay them underground.
The top court had observed that two large bird species are vulnerable to fatal collision with overhead power lines.
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