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Electrocution poises threat; Innocent birds need extra care in twin cities
By Our correspondent  Published on: 03-Oct-2013 10:42:11
Place: Bhubaneswar
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Every city needs a healthy bird population for controlling insects and pests. Many birds are carrion and garbage feeders and help in safe disposal of organic wastes thrown by the thousands of city households in Odisha.

Lack of safety measures and non-use of protective devices on power lines and distribution transformers put up by an electricity distribution company account for electrocution of large number of innocent birds everyday in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar and its adjoining city Cuttack.

The negligence of power utility company Central Electricity Supply Utility Limited (CESU) to take safety measures has lead to the deaths of endangered birds like the cuckoo, oriole, mynahs, drongo, kites, barn owls and treepie which are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act,1972.

Besides, other useful birds like crows and pigeons are also getting killed.

"Since, there are hundreds of transformers in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack city which have been erected on 11 KV power lines near consumer points, the death rate can be well imagined. With an estimated 200 birds being killed every month, at least 2,400 such birds lose their lives every year affecting the city's bird population," says Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha.

Local shop keepers and vendors at Saheed Nagar report that at least five to seven birds are killed every month at the local pole mounted transformer. "Very often we find innocent birds get killed when the sit on uncovered transformers," said Sanjaya Sahu, a local cyber café owner.

The lead in wires from the 11 KV high tension (HT) line do not have safety insulation which shall prevent birds from coming in contact. The conductors are quite close to each other at the input terminal of the transformer and any bird which sits there causes a short circuit which kills it. No damage is caused to the line and the bird simply gets a high shock and drops dead.

"These deaths are avoidable and can be controlled to a large extent if only necessary safety measures and protective devices are installed on the distribution transformers and conductors," contends Mohanty.

He maintains that the exposed lead in wires and terminals need to be sufficiently insulated so that perching birds are not affected. There are well laid out protocols and guidelines issued by wildlife agencies which are followed by most power companies of the world to prevent death or injury to wildlife species by electric transmission lines or transformers.

The officials of CESU are well aware of the matter since it has been brought to their notice more than a year ago.

On the request of the electricity company, the Wildlife Society of Odisha had provided them a copy of such guidelines laid down by Avian Protection Plan Guidelines published by Edison Electric Institute's Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Such guidelines have been framed to prevent bird deaths due to electrocution at power transformers and electric poles and have been very useful in reducing bird fatalities by as much as 90 per cent.

The wildlife wing has written to the power utility company since more than four months to take protective measures to insulate the terminals and conductors at the transformers to make them "bird safe." However, the company has failed to put in any safety devices or insulators to avoid spending a few lakhs of rupees necessary to protect the birds.

The Society has recently urged the state's state Chief Wildlife Warden to prosecute the electricity company and book the officials found guilty under the Wildlife Protection Act,1972 for causing the death of protected species of birds.

"It's really shocking that we are losing our bird population due to electrocution. I will discuss this issue with the CESU authorities and we will certainly do something concrete to protect the beautiful birds," said Amit Mishara, a bird lover.

"Every city needs a healthy bird population for controlling insects and pests. Many birds are carrion and garbage feeders and help in safe disposal of organic wastes thrown by the thousands of city households", he added.

Electrocution poises threat; Innocent birds need extra care in twin cities

Birds also help in propagation of various tree and plant species and, therefore, help us in maintaining the green cover in the cities.

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