Bombay HC Sends Notices To State, Tree Authorities On Plea Over Light Pollution

Bombay HC Sends Notices To State, Tree Authorities On Plea Over Light Pollution

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by Thane-resident Rohit Joshi, who is founder and president of Yeoor Environmental Society, seeking strict implementation of Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act which stipulates protection of trees from burning, felling and damage.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 02:39 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File Image

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday issued notices to the Maharashtra government, and the tree authorities in Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayander seeking their response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition highlighting light pollution and other ill-effects of excessive use of decorative lights on trees and other organisms dependent on the trees.

Noting that the petition raised a “pertinent question of public interest”, a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor has asked the state and the tree authorities to file their reply in four weeks.

Details On The PIL

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by Thane-resident Rohit Joshi, who is founder and president of Yeoor Environmental Society, seeking strict implementation of Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act which stipulates protection of trees from burning, felling and damage.

The plea stated that since November 2023, several trees have been draped / wrapped with bright lighting and high-tension wires. Joshi, hence, issued legal notices to the authorities in Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayander explaining the dangers caused by placing / fixing / draping and installing lights on trees. As he did not receive any reply. He filed the PIL.

The petition states that a paper titled “Studying light pollution as an emerging environmental concern in India” was published in the Journal of Urban Management, which noted that “ALAN (Artificial Light at Night) affects the natural cycles of plant species, as well as the dark hour, which is necessary for the plants to perform photosynthesis efficiently”. The experiments were conducted in 2018 to study the ill-effects of street lights on trees.

“Here we are talking about draping of trees with these decorative lights,” advocate Ronita Bhattacharya, appearing for Joshi, submitted.

It also mentions paper published by two Department of Botany, School of Life Sciences, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, C.G, Bilaspur -- Effect street light pollution on the photosynthetic efficiency of different plants – which revealed that “when plants are exposed to continuous light then there is change in their photosynthetic efficiency”.

Bhattacharya contended that section 2(C) of the Trees Act defines to fell a tree as a course of burning or cutting or in any way damaging the tree. Whereas Section 8 of Act imposes restriction on felling of trees which is subject to permission granted by a tree officer/ tree authority.

She submitted that since illuminating trees is harmful to them, the same should be considered as damaging trees. Hence, the same should be regulated under the Tree Act, Bhattacharya added.

The HC has kept the matter for hearing on June 12.

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