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South Mumbai resident files light pollution complaint against Wilson gymkhana

Police, district collector’s office issue notices to the club as Chira Bazaar resident complains of glaring light in his house at night

mumbai Updated: Nov 28, 2017 10:17 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
A recent photograph by residents shows floodlights at Wilson Gymkhana on at 3.32 am.

For the past two years, residents living near Wilson College gymkhana on Marine Drive have been complaining about glaring lights from its grounds.

And now, in what could be a first, the police and the district collector’s office have issued notices to the gymkhana asking them to switch them off at 10pm after repeated light pollution complaints from Chira Bazaar resident Nilesh Desai. Light pollution (measured in lumens) is the term for excessive, misdirected or obtrusive man-made light. The gymkhana said they are shutting off the lights after 10pm.

Environmentalists said this may be the first such complaint in Mumbai, highlighting the need for guidelines for light pollution. HT had reported in October that a compilation of studies on light pollution by Awaaz Foundation, which began in August, identified its sources in Mumbai, its health impacts on humans and animals, and the need for a policy on the increased use of artificial light.

“I have been fighting this nuisance for the past two years, and it had fallen on deaf ears. The glaring lights blind us until 3-4am every night,” said Desai, resident of Sunkersett Building. “Post 7pm, we cannot look outside our house at all because the glare can injure our eyes within a few seconds. The intensity is extremely strong and I do not know what health issues I have already suffered because of this.”

Doctors said long-term exposure to light pollution could lead to psychiatric problems. “The amount of light the human eye can adjust to and find useful is between 400 and 500 microns. LED lights installed above advertising hoardings, stadiums and open grounds are all more than 500 microns, which can lead to hallucinations, false orientation and sleep disorders,” said Dr Arjun Ahuja, head of ophthalmology department, KEM hospital, Parel.

A senior officer from the Mumbai police said as there are no laws to regulate light pollution, enforcement is difficult. “Not just Wilson, all other gymkhanas in the area have been told about this issue. We issued a notice to Wilson Gymkhana telling them that these bright lights can cause accidents. However, there was no response,” the officer said. “We can only tell them to switch off the lights after 10pm.”

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 10:17 IST