File report on insulating EB lines: Madras HC – The New Indian Express

Chennai News

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) to submit an action taken report on directions issued by Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) to use insulated transmission line cables in protected areas to prevent wildlife deaths due to electrocution. 

A divisional bench of Justices N Sathish Kumar and D Bharatha Chakravarthy issued the direction based on a memo filed by amicus curiae M Santhanaraman. “The death of elephants and other wild animals due to electrocution by transmission lines have been reported across the State and several instances were also reported in forests and protected areas,” the bench said. 

In its 54th meeting held on July 18, 2019, the NBWL accepted the recommendations of the task force constituted by the Union environment ministry, but Tangedco is yet to comply with most of the recommendations. 

Recently, officials of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) and Coimbatore district administration tried to persuade Tangedco to provide insulated power line to a tribal village, Erumaiparai, but the power corporation asked the forest department to pay the additional cost. This will be the first tribal hamlet in the State to have insulated power line, if installed, as reported by TNIE. 

A total of 13 recommendations of the task force were accepted by the NBWL. The prominent ones being immediate rectification of sagging transmission lines and cables in protected areas to prevent death of animals in forest areas due to electrocution and distribution companies shall preferably use ABC (aerial bunched cables) or underground cable. In case of overhead lines, the clearance above ground of the lower conductor of 11 kV / 33 kV overhead lines should be as per CEA regulations. 

The existing transmission lines should be replaced retrospectively with insulated cables/or underground cables on a priority basis by Electricity Supply Units, Power Distribution Companies and Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. Birds frequently collide with the earth wires (less visible wire) installed at the top of transmission lines, as it is less visible and smaller in diameter.

Removal of earth wire would reduce bird collisions but this rarely a viable option since the earth wires protect the power-line installation from lightning strikes. This is only possible in areas where there is very low lightning and to a limited extent. 

There is a need to set up reinforced electric poles fitted with spikes to prevent elephants rubbing against them and lifting of sagging overhead power lines. This is yet to be done in many protected areas. Also insulate overhead wires across all elephant habitat and elephant movement zones and remove / dismantle all defunct solar powered fences, the NBWL said.