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Environmentalists Critical of Nobel Prize for R K Pachauri headed IPCC

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, October 13, 2007 | 7:32 AM

Environmentalists Critical of Nobel Prize for R K Pachauri headed IPCC

New Delhi: Global Alliance Against Pollution expresses surprise at the choice of Dr R K Pachauri headed UN climate group for Noble Peace Prize which has proposed solutions like “a major expansion in nuclear power, use of GM crops to boost biofuel production, and reliance on unproven technologies…” to mitigate adverse climate change.

Such solutions have put the group on a collision course with those who argue that simply replacing one set of technologies with another set of technologies won't work. Nuclear reactors are dangerous and land clearance and chemical pesticides and fertilisers used to grow fuel crops can cause huge environmental damage. Pachauri is also a known supporter of Interlinking of Rivers project involving massive land use change-a listed cause of climate change as per Kyoto Protocol.

It is shocking to note that Pachauri headed The Energy Research Institute (TERI) is advising the Government of India to undertake polluting incineration technology based municipal waste to energy projects that has failed in US and Europe. Rationalising the same, he says, "The stress is on India because we are a developing nation so we need energy more. But developed countries shouldn't be pointing fingers at us because they have done their bit to pollute the environment. So they should set their own house in order first." TERI in its study done for Indian Environment Ministry estimates that municipal solid waste to energy projects have the largest potential of around $400,000 every year.

In fact TERI itself in one of its other studies on solid waste management in India has pointed out that the techno-economic feasibility of such projects is not established. Therefore, their recommendation to undertake the same is baffling given the fact that waste incineration is mentioned in the annexure A of the Protocol as a source of green house gas emissions. Although by now it is fairly well known that carbon trade does not alleviate poverty, Pachauri remains a votary of this trade in the name of poor.

It must be remembered that Pachauri, an Indian engineer and an economist had replaced Robert Watson, a US atmospheric scientist in 2002 as the Chairman of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Watson has been the chairman of IPCC since 1996. Pachauri received 76 votes as a result of George Bush administration’s reported campaign against Watson who got only 49 votes. At the behest of fossil fuel lobby, the US campaign worked on a strategy for Watson’s removal to ensure industry friendly officials at IPCC. The world's biggest oil company, Exxon-Mobil among others had proposed this strategy in liaison with oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia. His industry friendly approach manifested itself in all the seminars, conferences and workshops he organized either as IPCC or TERI by taking sponsorship from all those corporations who are known for heinous corporate crimes. When the Indian Ministry of Water Resources Resolution dated 24 February, 2003, made him a member of the Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers project constituted “with a view to bringing about a consensus among the states,” it became evident that he represents corporate interest and not the public interest that has rejected the mega project. A December 2002 resolution of Government of India has presented it as a panacea of all water problems that cannot be questioned.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited in his speech “Transforming India Towards a New Development Model” on 21st August 2007 said, “We can converge civil engineering and agriculture to build a trans-India water resources system. This can be done by linking rivers on an unprecedented scale. It can result in adequate water resources for agriculture, particularly to put marginal land to productive use and benefit marginal farmers.” He was speaking at the sixth Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture organized by TERI.

Pachauri, TERI, Ambani and others who support the ecologically disastrous networking of rivers project ignore the way it would contribute to global warming by replumbing of the earth and rewriting of geography. Among other environmentally destructive consequences, it is noteworthy that Prof V. Rajamani of Jawaharlal Nehru University had brought out consequences of the proposed project on the South West monsoon. Unmindful of the fact that one of the major outcomes of `development' is water-scarcity, according to Pachauri this mega project would flood proof and drought proof the country, improve agriculture through canal irrigation, provide alternative transport, additional electricity, higher GDP growth, employment etc. What he does not pay attention to is that these projects cause near total removal of suspended sediment load from the stream flow, which would otherwise get deposited on land through flooding. Consequently, irrigation water would become nutrient depleted and this would necessitate the extensive use of chemical fertilizers for agriculture.

Connecting the rivers is an engineer's dream but Pachauri chooses to remain oblivious of massive human displacement, disappearance of villages, water logging of millions of hectares of agricultural land for the benefit of contractors, engineers and industrialists. According to a report of earth scientists, “The benefits of the monsoon rainfall to the entire ecology of India as well as to the human-centric economy need no reiteration. The adverse effects of reduced run-off to the Bay of Bengal because of river linkages appear to be real.” This report was co-authored by earth scientists such as Prof. Rajamani, U. C. Mohanty, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, R. Ramesh, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, G. S. Bhat, P. N. Vinayachandran and D. Sengupta, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India; Prasanna Kumar, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, and R. K. Kolli, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and published in Current Science.

Pachauri and Ministry of Water Resources do not take into cognizance several ecological and social consequences. If only little water is returned to the oceans because of interlinking of rivers, there are at least two major consequences. Marine life is deprived of nutrient supply and marine productivity is adversely affected. If the monsoon system from the Bay of Bengal slowly shuts itself off on a decadal or a century scale in the event of land-water not reaching the sea, then rivers on the Indian continent may not exist to sustain their linkages.

Is it believable that likes of Pachauri, TERI and Ambani do not know about these grave ramifications of their megalomania- a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, genius, or omnipotence?

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