Rajendra K Pachauri
Education: MS, PhD in industrial engineering and economics, North Carolina State University
Career: Chairperson, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; director general, The Energy and Resources Institute
Q. Do you view the Uttarakhand disaster as a man-made calamity that could have been averted?
A: We could have saved lives had we put in place measures to face such disasters. Some houses along the hills should not have been constructed and better regulations needed to be in place. We cannot directly attribute this particular event to man-made actions and global warming, but such incidents are expected to increase in future.
Q. Orissa super cyclone (1999), Mumbai floods (2005), and now Uttarakhand—three major incidents in 15 years. Is global warming at the epicentre of these?
A: We cannot attribute any one of them definitively to global warming. India has to be prepared for such events in the future and this should serve as a wake-up call for those who are concerned about protecting people, their property and the environment.
Q. The IPCC reports have questioned the development model in the Himalayan region. How flawed is the model?
A: The IPCC has not questioned the development model in the Himalayan region, but there is a flaw that is uniform across the states in the region. The emergence of structures along the hills and the increase in road traffic are concerns. The development model needs to be sustainable and in harmony with the livelihoods of people living in that particular region.
An example would be Mukteshwar [a tourist town in Nainital district] where farmers had small areas of land and were struggling for water before we helped them. Some hotels in the region consume water for their facilities and the farmers in the area do not have water. There has to be a large intellectual effort in defining sustainability and evolving an appropriate model of development.
(This story appears in the 09 August, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)