Articles

Source : The Hindu , Dated 20th June 2006


NATURE'S SPLENDOUR:
The Athirappilly waterfalls.

The Rs.1.5-crore dynamic lighting scheme is part of the Rs.5-crore waterfall development project

THRISSUR: The move to illuminate the Athirappilly waterfalls by dynamic lighting, ignoring warnings of ecological damage by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), is worrying environmentalists and local communities.

The Rs.1.5-crore dynamic lighting scheme is a part of the Rs.5-crore Athirappilly waterfalls development project proposed by the Department of Tourism and promoted earlier by the former Chalakudy MLA Savitri Lakshmanan.

Replying to a Government query about the feasibility of the dynamic lighting scheme, the KFRI, in a letter dated April 27, 2005, stated that the move was not "desirable." The KFRI pointed out the ecological importance of the region and warned that any such move would have its impact on biodiversity.

Artificial lighting affects aquatic invertebrates through changes in photoperiodic behaviour, the KFRI wrote.

Impact of artificial lighting

Electric light can severely affect the behaviour of nocturnal insects. In 1950, the Robinson Brothers stated that a high general level of illumination causes night-flying insects to settle as they would normally do at daybreak; so feeding, breeding and egg-laying activities cease.

Artificial light can affect mating of moths and the behaviour patterns of birds. Nocturnal mammals would be deterred from using established foraging and breeding areas. Light pollution can disorient various reptiles and amphibians and kill them. Research has shown that artificial sky glow from cities disorients migrating birds and is responsible for high mortality rates in first-year migrants.

UDF Government move

In August 2005, the United Democratic Front Government wrote to the KFRI to re-examine the scheme and suggest permissible levels of lighting, duration and safeguards to the followed.
The information we gave the Government in April 2005 on the impact of artificial lighting on the wetland ecosystem was based on international studies, which were applicable to Athirappilly as well. In September, the KFRI wrote to the Government that it could not give information on permissible levels of artificial lighting as it had not conducted studies in this regard," says J. K. Sharma, director, KFRI.