Wind energy causes less destruction on the environment in comparison to fossil fuel, but windmills in Karnataka have been placed in forest areas at the cost of animals and birds.
The Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) has conducted a study, which has found that the noise and vibrations from the blades of the turbine, apart from the direct impact, were driving animals away, leading to man-animal conflicts. The study was conducted due to the increasing number of windmills in forest areas whose influence has not been researched or included in a policy.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) data, Karnataka’s investment in wind energy has seen 37.8 sq.km of land in the forest being used to build windmills. The numbers are ever increasing, with policy leaning towards “green energy”.
A team of 11 researchers led by H N Kumara from SACON spent over a year monitoring windmills in Chitradurga and Gadag, both being under forest cover.
They studied the collisions between the animals and the turbine and recorded that between 35 to 40 per cent of the bird diversity resides in these areas.
“There is a clear displacement of birds. We estimate that there are 50 per cent lesser birds in areas with windmills compared to control sites nearby that were undisturbed,” says Dr Kumara.
The observations made by the team have been studied by the Forest Department, which has been documenting man-animal conflicts over the past 15 years. The final report is expected to be submitted by the end of the month, with the department sending clarifications and comments.
“We have asked for certain refinements, and we will look seriously at the impact of windmills on birds and mammals. Based on this, we will draw up guidelines for setting up windmills to mitigate these effects,” said C Jayaram, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), reported The Hindu.
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