When doctors told Kamal Meattle, SM ‘67, that the air in New Delhi was killing him, he was not persuaded to leave his lifelong home. Pollution in Delhi is reported to contribute to the deaths of 10,000 people each year, but Meattle was determined that he would not become a statistic. He set out to create his own healthy climate–and prove his doctors wrong. Ten years later, Meattle runs an office hotel for dozens of clients, and its air is among the purest on the planet.
Meattle (rhymes with “beetle”) is the CEO and director of Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park, which provides everything a business needs to set up shop, including Internet connections and cleaning and dining services, as well as one of New Delhi’s most sophisticated air-filtering systems outside the operating theater of the Ganga Ram Hospital. It’s just one of several businesses that Meattle owns, but the one that receives the most attention–from him and from the media. The Paharpur Business Centre and Meattle’s work as an environmentalist have been detailed in such publications as the Economist and India’s Financial Express. The picture that emerges is of a man so dedicated to conservation, environmentalism, and recycling that he takes his beliefs into the workplace.
At Meattle’s office hotel, the air is purified by air scrubbers, high-efficiency particulate air filters, and ionizers and then oxygenated by carefully tended, toxin-absorbing plants. Everything that can be recycled is, and energy conservation programs are detailed down to room temperature and light-bulb specs. Meattle believes that the building he has created can serve as a model not only for the city of New Delhi but for the world at large. He has spent a great deal of time in India and abroad convincing corporate leaders, diplomats, energy ministers, and other government officials that his ideas about sustainability, individual responsibility, and respect for the environment can ensure a healthier future for everyone.
“Either you are overwhelmed by the fact that there are so many problems and so many people,” says Meattle, “or you find solutions to help in any way you can.”
The ways that Meattle has found include offering a financial incentive to all his 550 employees to use energy-saving condensed-fluorescent-lamp light bulbs. He also found housing for 118 homeless families who were illegally squatting in a lot next to Paharpur, cleaned up more than 100 truckloads of garbage that littered the area, and turned the lot into Nehru Place Greens by planting 2,000 trees on it. Food scraps from the office hotel are composted so they can fertilize the trees next door.