Gymkhanas on Mumbai’s Marine Drive are violating collector’s order on light pollution

Residents claim that since the order to switch off floodlights after 10pm was issued, gymkhanas still kept their lights on till 2am and recent complaints went unheard.

mumbai Updated: Mar 10, 2018 00:16 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Marine Drive,Light Pollution
Light pollution (measured in lumens) is the collective term for excessively altered, misdirected or obtrusive man-made light(HT FILE)

More than a month after Mumbai city collector Sampada Mehta issued an order directing all gymkhanas on Marine Drive to switch off high intensity lights or floodlights after 10pm, residents from the area have alleged that the gymkhanas have been violating the order.

Kalbadevi resident Nilesh Desai, who has filed several complaints with the Mumbai police and the district collector’s office that led to the order on February 12, said that since the order was issued, gymkhanas still kept their lights on till 2am and even recent complaints went unheard. His complaint said that lights from Wilson College gymkhana, PJ Hindu and other gymkhanas were all violating the order.

Apart from switching off lights at 10pm, Mehta directed gymkhanas to come up with a plan for changing the direction of flood lights to ensure it does not affect local residents, does not cause accidents at Marine Drive and also requested the state to draft light pollution rules.

“This is blatant violation of clear orders by the district administration. The police have not been instrumental in implementing the order so far, and residents continue to have sleepless nights due to the glare from these floodlights. Even though a police chowkee is located at the site, they are not proactive until a complaint is filed,” said Desai. “The gymkhanas are manipulating the order by using high beam temporary lights rather than floodlights for weddings that also need to be turned off by 10pm.”

A senior official from the Mumbai collector’s office, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Clear orders have been issued by us to control light pollution even though there are no standards. It is now the responsibility of the Mumbai police to ensure the order is followed.”

Officials from the Mumbai police said they were investigating the matter. “While we can confirm that lights at the police gymkhana are switched off by 10pm, we are verifying the complaint and ensuring residents are not affected in future,” said Vilas B Gangawane, senior police inspector, Marine Drive police station.

However,Frasier D, manager of the PJ Hindu Gymkhana, said that they were not violating any rules and Wilson College Gymkhana said they only used few lights for weddings over the past four days. “Our floodlights have remained off but other lights are being used for weddings, which are also switched off by 10pm. The change in direction of lights is still underway. We request residents to approach us if they face any difficulty,” said Amin Pawar, senior manager, Wilson Gymkhana.

“The gymkhanas are not concerned about issues faced by people in their neighbourhood, and the authorities need to act considering this is affecting people’s health. We need to take this issue on a wider basis to insist that a policy be framed regarding light pollution,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.

Light pollution readings recorded on January 19, 2018

Location Light Pollution reading (in lux)
Wilson Gymkhana 84,800 facing the light source
Police Gymkhana14,100 facing the light source
Marine Drive seaward side2,100 ambient light (including street lights)
Juhu Beach67,000 directly under the light source

(Source: Awaaz Foundation)

Doctors from KEM Hospital in Parel said 20 lux is appropriate for reading; the human eye should not be exposed directly to lux levels exceeding 50-60 lux. Existing fluorescent streetlights range emit 50,000-55,000 lux, while the LED lights along Marine Drive give out a maximum of 60,000 lux.

What is Light Pollution

Light pollution (measured in lumens) is the collective term for excessively altered, misdirected or obtrusive man-made light. Currently, there are no standards for light pollution globally. Artificially lit areas at night across India increased by 33% between 2012 and 2016 — a rise of 7.4% per year, found study from December last year by the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences using data from a NASA satellite.

Common sources in Mumbai include lighting of building exteriors and interiors, advertising hoardings, car headlights, tall office buildings, shops and factories, streetlights, and illuminated venues such as beaches and waterfronts.

How does it impact health

Light pollution affects health in a number of ways including increased headaches, loss of sleep, fatigue, stress, decrease in sexual function, development irregularities, mood fluctuations, increase in anxiety, retinal damage, reduced sperm production and genetic mutation. Light pollution during normally dark periods affects production of melatonin in living beings. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and behaviour.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 00:16 IST