The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Friday told the Lok Sabha that it has initiated a project worth Rs 33.85 crore for the conservation and protection of the Great Indian Bustard. Only 130 such birds are left in India, PTI reported.

“The ministry, through its Centrally Sponsored Scheme-Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats, provides funds to states or Union Territories under the component ‘Species Recovery Programme’ for conservation and protection of 21 critically endangered species, including the Great Indian Bustard,” Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo said.

He added that the ministry has initiated Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard – An Integrated Approach, a project worth Rs 33.85 crore. “The important objective of this programme is to build up captive population of Great Indian Bustard and to release the chicks in the wild for increasing the population,” Supriyo said. “Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the important range states involved in this programme.”

Government figures show that Maharashtra got Rs 4.79 crore and Rajasthan Rs 3.12 crore between 2015 and 2019 for the conservation of the bird, Supriyo said.

However, he added that the government does not recognise noise pollution as a cause of danger to the bird.

YV Jhala, a senior officer at WII, an organisation working on the Indian bustard breeding project, said power lines are killing these birds. “We are starting a breeding programme to repopulate the great Indian bustard,” he told PTI. “We collect their eggs, incubate them and hatch them. The second and third generation born out of the breeding will be then released into the wild when the environment is suitable for them. But it will take at least 15 years for them to be released into the wild.”

A report last year had said that there was only one Great Indian Bustard left in Gujarat.