COP13: Environmental Impact Assessment for power lines not needed, says India

Gopal Kateshiya
Migratory Species award, Migratory Species of Wild Animals, wildlife-friendly, power transmission lines, 13th Conference of Parties, COP13, rajkot news, gujarat news, indian express news

However, these indicators were ‘unknown’ for Germany, the country which hosts the headquarters of CMS and has been supporting the ETF.

Two days after India was given the Champion of Migratory Species award by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) for promoting “wildlife-friendly energy”, the country’s representatives clarified that environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not a requirement for power transmission lines and thus, differed from a draft resolution proposed by the global body.

A draft resolution moved by the CMS secretariat at the ongoing 13th Conference of Parties (COP13) at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, on Wednesday, proposed careful site selection and planning through EIAs for renewable energy development projects.

The draft resolution annexed to a document entitled Renewable Energy and Migratory Species urged Parties to “apply appropriate Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) and EIA procedures, when planning the use of renewable energy technologies, avoiding existing protected areas in the broadest sense and other sites of importance to migratory species”.

The CMS secretariat also moved another proposal entitled “Power Lines and Migratory Birds” calling for reconciliation between the need to develop renewable energy and power line infrastructures, and the imperatives of the conservation of migratory species.

Reacting to the resolution on power lines and migratory birds, Soumitra Dasgupta, Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife), clarified that power transmission line projects in the country do not require EIA and proposed an amendment in the resolution.

“India is generally in agreement with the introduction. But we would be very happy if modifications are made. The resolution generally appears to be an order. However, in India, environment impact assessment studies are not required for transmission projects,” Dasgupta told the meeting of the Committee of the Whole of the COP13.

The proposal on power lines and migratory birds also called on the Parties to “recognise the need to achieve the targets adopted by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris on global warming, including through the increased use of renewable energy sources, which often requires the deployment of new power line infrastructure.”

In this resolution, India proposed to substitute phrase “new power lines infrastructure” by “large scale power line infrastructure” and added that India would submit a written statement to express its views on the subject.

India’s submission came two days after it was accorded by the CMS the Champion Plus status “for its commitments towards the Small Grant Programme 2020-2023 and for supporting the Energy Task Force in promoting wildlife-friendly energy over the same period” on the eve of COP13.

The CMS secretariat had prepared both the resolutions based on inputs provided by its ETF and Scientific Council. Incidentally, India, which leads the International Solar Alliance, has ambitious targets of renewable energy generation.

Meanwhile a document called Reconciling Energy Development with the Conservation of Migratory Species: An Analysis of National Reports to CMS COP13 and prepared by the CMS after analysing national reports submitted by countries which are parties to the CMS, categorised India as a country where electrocution is a low pressure to migratory bird species and collision with wind turbines as moderate-to-low pressure on birds. These pressures were assessed to be severe or moderate in some European and African countries.

However, these indicators were ‘unknown’ for Germany, the country which hosts the headquarters of CMS and has been supporting the ETF. Only 90 out of 130 countries which are parties to CMS had submitted their national reports in 2019 in this respect.

When asked by The Indian Express about the CMS document on the impact of power lines on birds showing as ‘unavailable’ information, Germany said it was due to a problem in its reporting system and that its energy infrastructure does have impact on species. “The German delegation clarified the situation and found that there was a communication problem within our reporting system. This has lead to the situation that the (CMS) Secretariat didn’t receive the necessary information to fill in Table 4 (Inf.36, Page 19). We do have an impact on birds and bat species and will provide detailed information to the secretariat a later stage,” a senior member of the German delegation said.

The week-long event concludes on Saturday.