The renewable energy industry is in a fix over what to do about a recent Supreme Court order which has ordered for the conversion of overhead power lines to underground in areas that are the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard.
Solar power projects in most parts of Rajasthan and some parts of Gujarat are impacted by this order. Industry insiders say that the order could effectively stop solar projects in Rajasthan. The wind sector is less hit immediately because there is hardly any wind project in the offing in Rajasthan.
According to industry sources, even if the additional costs, estimated at around ₹80,000 crore, is somehow absorbed, it is nearly impossible to implement the order, because of ‘right of way’ issues.
However, the order of a three-member Bench of the apex court comprising the then Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, and Justices AS Boppanna and V Ramasubramanian, leaves little wriggle room. “There cannot be disagreement whatsoever that appropriate steps are required to be taken to protect the said species of birds,” the order says.