Very appreciative of India’s gift of solar panels, says UN chief’s spokesperson

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UNITED NATIONS: The UN is very appreciative of India’s gift of solar panels to it, a spokesperson for the Secretary General has said, amid suggestions that their energy can be used to run escalators in the world body’s headquarters.

The UN is very appreciative of India’s gift of solar panels to it, a spokesperson for the Secretary General has said, amid suggestions that their energy can be used to run escalators in the world body’s headquarters that have been partially shut as part of austerity measures implemented due to a severe liquidity crisis at the organisation.

The United Nations is facing a “severe liquidity crisis”, reaching its deepest deficit of the decade.

Several emergency measures have been put in place by the world organisation to tide over the financial crunch.

Official travel will be limited to the most essential activities, air conditioning and heating in the UN Secretariat has been reduced outside official working hours and catering facilities are being operated with reduced hours.                   

“The issue with the escalators, as we pointed out, is an issue having to do with our budget. We are using solar panels. As you know, India had donated that, and we’re very appreciative for the donation. But when it comes to our cost-cutting measures, we’ll keep reviewing them and probably bring more services online once the money comes in,” Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said at the daily press briefing here Monday in response to a question.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was asked about the escalator situation last week and a suggestion was made that the energy generated from the Gandhi Solar Park, installed on the roof of the UN Headquarters, can be used to power the escalators. 

On the suggestion that energy from the solar panels could be used to power the shut escalators, Dujarric had said “I don’t think I’m an electrical engineer, but I will see where that electricity goes.”           

In response to a question, Dujarric had said that the UN was saving about USD 14,000 a year by keeping the escalators closed.

Another suggestion to tide over the liquidity crunch was to get sheep to mow the lawns in the UN Headquarters just as they were being used to mow the lawns in the UN offices in Geneva.

“Well, we could talk to our friends at the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to see if they have anything to offer,” Dujarric had said.

India is among the initial group of over 30 UN Member States who paid their regular budget dues in full and on time to the world organisation as of October 11, 2019. India paid USD 23.25 million in regular budget assessments by January 31, 2019, the 30-day due period specified as per UN’s Financial Regulation rules. 

Total arrears for the UN are USD 1.385 billion. Officials at the world organisation said that seven countries owe 97 per cent of the USD 1.385 billion. These seven nations are the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Israel and Venezuela. 

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu had also cited the example of the solar park to underscore that energy efficient practices at the UN will help as the world body implements the austerity measures.

Naidu had said last month that among the menu list of austerity measures that could perhaps improve the budgetary situation includes adhering to the advance air ticket purchase policy, better management of exchange rate fluctuations, energy efficient lighting and other environment friendly practices at the UN Headquarters and duty stations.

“The Gandhi Solar Park, a token gift of India to the UN, which was inaugurated last month, is part of the solution,” he said. 

The park, with 193 solar panels, installed on the roof of the UN building was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the high-level UN General Assembly session in September.

At a contribution of about one million dollars, India gifted the solar panels that have been installed on the roof of the UN Headquarters, one panel each for every 193 UN Member State.

The solar panels are powered up to reach the max of 50 KW of generation power. Energy generated in the park is equivalent to energy that would have been created through use of 30,000 kilograms of coal. It also has a carbon sequestration of 1000 seedlings which will grow into trees over 10 years. —PTI

Source: The Tribune