Police issues notice asking Mumbai gymkhanas on Marine Drive to switch off lights by 10pm

Residents of the area had complained that the gymkhanas were causing light pollution and flouting the city collector’s order to switch off the lights at night.

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2018 00:35 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Marine Drive,South Bombay
Light emanating from a gymkhana post 10pm. (HT PHOTO)

Police have issued notices to gymkhanas on Marine Drive asking them to switch off floodlights by 10pm. Residents of the area had complained that the gymkhanas were causing light pollution and flouting the city collector’s order to switch off the lights at night. While the notice was issued on March 10, it reached the gymkhanas and complainant Kalbadevi resident Nilesh Desai over the weekend.

“You are once again informed to ensure to avoid causing inconvenience to residents living around the gymkhanas from floodlights used during weddings and other events at gymkhana grounds and using lights after 10pm. Otherwise, appropriate action will be taken as per law,” read the notice undersigned by Vilas B Gangawane, senior police inspector, Marine Drive police station.

Gangawane said if the gymkhanas failed to meet the 10pm deadline, the department will reach out to the power distribution companies and the city collector. “In the absence of rules for light pollution, it is difficult for us to take action as we do when there are complaints regarding noise. However, we will escalate the matter if citizens continue to be troubled,” he said.

Members of Wilson gymkhana said they were going to organise a meeting with all other gymkhanas soon to address the problem. “Floodlights have been switched off post 10pm. However, it is not possible to switch off lights during wedding ceremonies. We are in the process of changing the direction of the floodlights and based on a meeting with other gymkhanas, we will take a call regarding the other lights used during events,” said Amin Pawar, senior manager, Wilson gymkhana.

Members of PJ Hindu gymkhana said they had no floodlights installed, and hardly have had any weddings over the past 10 days. “There is no question of violating the 10pm deadline,” said Frasier D, manager, PJ Hindu Gymkhana.

“We do not have high mast lights at our ground, and low-intensity lights are being used during weddings. All precautions and rules are already being followed by us to ensure citizens are not affected by events at our gymkhana. Large events are stopped by 10pm but even our smaller events do not exceed beyond 11-11.30pm,” said Mohammed Hanif Shaikh, manager, Islam Gymkhana.

Members of Parsi gymkhana said they have not had any event for the past 10 days.

“For the past 10 days, most of the gymkhanas have been using high-intensity lights especially for weddings, and the lights have remained on as late as 3 am. The collector’s order is continuously being violated. The glare from the floodlights lights up our entire building, and sleepless nights continue,” said Desai

Desai had filed complaints with the police and the district collector’s office saying that light pollution was causing sleepless nights for Marine Drive residents. On February 12, the city collector Sampada Mehta directed the gymkhanas to switch off lights at 10pm and asked the clubs – police gymkhana, Wilson gymkhana, PJ Hindu, Parsi and Islam gymkhana - to come up with a plan for changing the direction of floodlights 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.

Mehta said she has written to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and state environment department to draft light pollution norms similar to noise pollution control rules.

Light pollution is the collective term for excessively altered, misdirected or obtrusive man made light.

Light Pollution readings recorded in Mumbai so far

Location Light Pollution reading (in lux)
Wilson Gymkhana 84,800
Police Gymkhana 14,100
Marine Drive seaward side2,100 (including streetlights)
Juhu Beach 67,000 (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 and lux) is the collective term for excessively altered, misdirected or obtrusive manmade light. Similar to know forms of pollution such as air, water or noise, various international studies have found that light pollution affects the health of humans and other forms of life adversely, and disrupts ecosystems.

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.

Light pollution surges at an alarming rate globally

From 2012 to 2016, the surface area of the planet that is artificially lit at night time grew by more than 2 per cent each year, found GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences using data from a Nasa satellite. Artificially lit areas at night across India increased by 33% between 2012 and 2016 — a rise of 7.4% per year, revealed the first-ever calibrated satellite radiometer designed for night lights. The total radiance of lit areas over the country also increased by 7.1% per year or 31.6% during the same time.

How light pollution affects animals, birds?

Light pollution offers an advantage to species that are attracted to light, over those that avoid it, thereby influencing predator-prey relationships, and altering the food chain. It can confuse animal navigation at night, and alter competitive interactions.

According to the study published by University of California, high-intensity urban light installation dramatically alters nocturnal bird migration. “Light pollution can significantly alter these organisms’ behaviours, from migration to foraging to vocal communication,” the study said.

Awaaz Foundation’s compilation of studies suggests that light pollution around lakes prevents microorganisms from eating surface algae, leading to other organisms that can kill off the lakes plants and thus lower water quality. Some species of frogs and salamanders have shown disorientation in their migratory behaviour after being influenced by light pollution.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 00:34 IST