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The Green Hornet

Man of steel Lakshmi Mittal is creating a buzz by turning into a tree-hugger. Yes, his mines are safe.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2011 21:29 IST

All those who have been following the rise and rise of steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal, the richest man in Europe and the fifth richest in the world, it’s common knowledge that the tycoon has a fetish for acquiring luxurious residences across the world. He also loves mega-steel factories and mines that have neat piles of iron ore booty embedded in them. So it was hardly surprising to read that the Kolkata boy has now set his eyes on an English country house in Surrey, Britain. However, it’s not the English house and the wonderful English garden that have caught his fancy — and our muted envy — but his craving to be seen as a ‘green’ person. So while he still zips around in his petrol- and diesel-guzzling cars and burns a decent-sized puff of jet fuel as he hops across continents to keep an eye on his business interests, the green crusader has confirmed that he is building ‘Zero Towers’. Zero Towers will have zero carbon footprint. Get it?

Reports say that the Rs 220-crore Mittal estate will have its own garden to generate wood from continually replanted trees to feed eight giant biomass boilers. All this wood-burning will take care of the heating needs of the house. That’s not all: there will be solar panels and a flat roof to store rainwater. The plan may get him a pat from the green brigade, but it’s a wee bit silly as a PR exercise. A man whose main business product is based on natural resources and who invests heavily in mining to sustain his show, this zero-carbon house is a ‘Look, I’m not a bad guy’ statement made from the rooftops.

As for feeling good about doing his bit for the world, maybe a couple of ‘plant-a-sapling’ drives across the world could have done the trick. Why spend Rs 220 crore? But then, PR’s about making big and bold statements and it’s his money.