Underground transmission lines proposed by CEA for Great Indian Bustard area

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has suggested that power transmission lines with voltage levels of up to 33 kV passing through the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) area should be underground. According to the draft ‘Construction of Electric Lines in the GIB Area Regulations, 2023,’ power transmission lines above 33 kV voltage level passing through the GIB area should be overhead lines installed with bird flight diverters. The rules will be applicable to all generating companies, transmission licensees, distribution licensees, central transmission utilities, and state transmission utilities that own, operate, or maintain electric lines in the GIB area. According to the release, stakeholders can submit their ideas by March 3, 2023.

In December 2022, the Ministry of Power approved the report of the expert technical committee that was constituted to formulate techno-economic norms for installing transmission systems in potential habitats of the GIB. The report mentioned that undergrounding of transmission lines of 66 kV and above voltage levels is technically unfeasible for evacuation of bulk power. Such a move would require much longer time for restoration leading to huge generation losses, the report stated.

In June 2022, technical standards were notified by a special committee constituted by the Supreme Court for bird flight diverters to be installed in priority areas that are associated with the Great Indian Bustard species. These standards have been notified after consultations with the CEA. As per the recommendations by the committee, parameters like size, colour, operation temperature, grip strength, and other construction aspects of the bird diverters must be standardised.

Additionally, according to the notification, diverters must be dynamic and should have a warning disc with 2-D or 3-D design. They should have necessary clamps and connectors. The utilities should include a mixture of LED and non-LED diverters on their powerlines, and at least 20 per cent diverters on a line should be LED type. The diverters must be designed for an effective life period of 15 years and warranty period of at least five years.