Voice Green: What is the best environment –friendly place you have been to? What attracted you the most there?
T.P. Sreenivasan: The Alps Mountains both in Austria and in Switzerland. It is a manicured kind of place in the sense that every grass there gets attention. What attracted me the most to this is the very fact that they have taken care to preserve Nature in spite of the heavy industrialization.
VG: Which, according to you, is the best tourism destination in the world? What attracted you the most there?
T.P.S: The Niagara Falls has all the attractions in terms of history and geography. It straddles two countries and has all kinds of facilities for entertainment. History is very much predominant there. Adventure is very much there. It is a tourist place with first class facilities.
VG: Can you please share with us any environment/ nature-related nostalgic thought?
T.P.S: We literally grew in the paddy fields. In dry season we flew kites, in rainy season we were swimming in that muddy water. Both these are exciting adventures as a boy. We used to walk through the fields balancing ourselves on the narrow bunds which divided the fields without any footwear. If you slip you will be in the water. Today when I go back there I find none of it. It is all construction. I think loss of the paddy field is probably the biggest disaster that has taken place in Kerala.
VG: What do you like the most in Nature and, why?
T.P.S: I don’t see a greater joy than watching the rain. And it is life itself. I am a golf player. Water on the golf course is the most exciting thing. Unless there is water, unless there is green grass you cannot play golf. Golf is a very Nature friendly game. I think the golf courses with their green vastness provide the kind of lungs a city needs to breathe.
VG: How did you first come to know of environment protection? Has the awareness of environment preservation changed your life style and outlook? If yes, in what ways?
T.P.S: I was not very conscious of the need for protection of environment because we took it for granted when we were young. I think the turning point in my life was the 1972 Stockholm conference on environment and development. Of course it was a professional interest initially. Mrs. Gandhi was the only head of state, who went to the Stockholm Conference in 1972. In 1992 in Rio about hundred heads of state went. So those twenty years were dramatic in world consciousness about the environment and its impact on development. Later I became the Government of India’s senior most environment negotiator for several years. From that point onwards I started noticing the damage. Since then I’ve been conscious of the need for restricted use of resources and preservation.
VG: How does the present day nature/ environment differ from the nature/environment you had seen in your childhood?
T.P.S: If you are destroying paddy fields for development, you must create paddy fields elsewhere. When you are building a factory somewhere, a matching area should be preserved for mankind. During the industrial revolution nobody did that. Now people are aware of it and there is need for environmental regulations, controls, clearances etc. I think there is a visible deterioration of the environment today.
VG: According to you, what is the most important environmental issue the world is facing? What, according to you, is the best way to solve that issue?
T.P.S: Global Warming, emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Development in any developing country needs to emit greenhouse gases. The developed countries are willing to give the developing countries technology, resources and finances in order to adopt more and more environment friendly technology. But now the crisis is that the developed countries are refusing to reduce their emissions. The consensus is basically that everybody will co-operate together so that the global temperature does not increase more than two degree Celsius.
VG: What is the most important environment-related issue in the city or place you are presently living? What, according to you, is the best way to solve that problem?
T.P.S: In Trivandrum, waste disposal, has been the most pressing issue. And that created a huge problem for the people because it was not processed adequately. I’ve lived in countries where the waste is a blessing rather than a curse. The most beautiful place in Vienna is where they dispose their waste. It was designed by their best artist Hundertwasser.
Waste is collected and separated at the source itself. Outside every house you will find different colored bins into which you can dump what you want. The processing centre provides power and heat for the entire city. I know it is very important for Trivandrum which had been a clean city in the past and today it is really pathetic.
VG: Which is the most environmentally polluted place you have seen? What pained your heart the most there?
T.P.S: Several colonies have sprouted all over Delhi and perhaps that is where you find pollution at its worst. If you enter somebody’s house… inside is Italian marble, fantastic fittings and everything. But you have to jump over at least twenty dogs to go to their houses and nobody seems to care what happens outside. They keep their homes very neat, but outside it is horrible.
VG: What is your message to the world for preserving nature? What, according to you, should be the first initiative to preserve Nature?
T.P.S: Consciousness and awareness. We are not aware. I think, there are many people who still believe that there is nothing called Global Warming. Conservation starts at home and cleanliness starts at home, orderliness starts at home and unless we practice all that and teach our children how to be conscious of environment preservation I don’t think we can do very much. The Governments can do very little. Very small measures by individuals can grow into huge projects.
VG: A brief comment to create a Nature-caring lifestyle for the people of Kerala.
T.P.S: To protect Nature is not just an ideal but a necessity. If the human kind has to continue in this world, the God created nature must be well taken care of. It is only by this that life can survive in this world. To love Nature and to take care of it are needs of mankind.