THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nature lovers have come out strongly against the growing light pollution in the capital. Ever since the state government decided to facilitate nightlife in the city, there has been a steady increase in the use of artificial lighting. And this has irked the nature lovers in the capital.
As part of the junction lighting project, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) — in association with Smart City Thiruvananthapuram -- has launched a Rs 3.6 crore initiative to light up busy junctions. The authorities have introduced LED strips to light up trees and other elements at busy intersections.
According to nature lovers and environmentalists, unnecessary illumination is posing a threat to the environment, animals and birds.“This is not even street lighting, and whoever did this gave the least thought to the birds and animals living on these trees. Trees belong to birds and it’s about being sensitive to birds, animals, insects and plants. All of them need the night cycle as much as they need the sun,” environmentalist R Sridhar said.
Studies have shown that artificial lighting is increasing globally by at least 2 per cent per year and is known to affect many bird species adversely. According to experts, light pollution is a significant threat to migratory birds. Many experts have lodged complaints with the authorities concerned. Environmental scientist and science educator Radha Gopal said excessive artificial lighting is creating a lot of confusion for nocturnal animals, especially birds.
“There have been several international studies on the subject. Artificial lighting is disrupting the natural cycle of animals and plants. Many cities are seriously thinking of reducing excessive artificial lights. It’s confusing for night pollinators. I agree our streets should be well-lit to ensure the safety of citizens but we should also show some responsibility towards other life forms. From a climate change perspective too, we waste so much energy on these artificial lights. Kerala can be a role model and show the way for other cities,” Radha said.
According to DTPC authorities, around 24 junctions were included in the lighting project being implemented by Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Ltd. “We are not lighting up every tree. The project aims at improving junction lighting. We are trying to create safe public spaces by improving lighting,” said a DTPC official. “At Sasthamangalam junction, we have lit up the tree using LED strips, which emit very low heat. These are on only till 1 am. When we introduce nightlife, proper lighting is important. Also, we are implementing the project only in core city areas. We picked junctions where there is a lack of lighting, and especially junctions with statues.”
So far, the work has been completed at 17 of the 24 locations. Road safety expert and former managing director of Trivandrum Road Development Corporation Anil Kumar Pandala said reflective lighting is ideal for nightlife. However, they should be lighting up streets and roads, not trees. This is disastrous. They should be taking up more innovative projects that will enhance the quality of life of citizens. Such excessive lighting is a distraction for motorists,” he noted. “The project has been implemented without any consultation with experts.”