Call for underground cables to check wildlife mortality
Perturbed over the rise in the number of wildlife mortalities due to electrocution, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has demanded that only underground electricity cables be allowed to pass through forest land.Updated: Jul 05, 2013 10:59 IST
Perturbed over the rise in the number of wildlife mortalities due to electrocution, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has demanded that only underground electricity cables be allowed to pass through forestland.
In cases where underground cabling is not possible, the department has demanded that only insulated cables be permitted in the areas.
A proposal for the same will to be brought before the wildlife advisory board meeting, to be chaired by the chief minister, on July 8.
Interestingly, the proposal mentions that there has been an unusual increase in the number of animals killed in the state by electric current because of feeder separation and availability of round-theclock power in rural areas.
The forest department’s proposal is silent over the cost difference that will arise in laying an underground cable vis-à-vis an above ground one.
Sources in the forest department said it had been proposed that, henceforth, only underground cables be allowed to go across the forestland and where this was not feasible, insulated overhead cables be used instead.
Stress is being laid on the switch to insulated and underground cables because during 2012-13, five tigers had been killed in MP by electrocution.
In this period, three tigers died of electrocution in Katni, one tiger each died in Umaria and Bhopal.
The forest department has also suggested that wherever the energy department agrees to replace old lines with insulated ones in tiger reserves, permission of the state wildlife board may be deemed given.
Further, in the first phase, insulated and underground cables may be introduced in tiger reserves and wildlife rich areas adjacent to them.
In the second phase, sanctuaries and other protected areas may be covered, while in the third phase remaining forest areas can be covered.
The forest department will also write to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests demanding that wildlife clearance be not required for replacement of conventional electrical lines with insulated and underground cables in sanctuaries and national parks.
The forest department has been trying to address the issue of wildlife mortality by electrocution since the late 1990s.
A proposal to insulate 71.30km electrical lines at a cost of Rs 4.73 crore in the Pench tiger reserve, after four tigers died due to electrocution between 1998 and 2006, was initially submitted but it failed to get implemented.
In 2009, it was estimated that the cost involved in insulating power lines passing through forest areas in the state would be around Rs 1,200 crore, while the cost for the same for sanctuaries and national parks would be Rs 120 crore.