Pakistan’s climate project in Gilgit-Baltistan region, which was opposed by India on technical grounds during the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board meeting in South Korea, got “conditional” nod on Friday after participants acknowledged the concerns flagged by New Delhi.
On India’s insistence, it was decided that there would be no disbursement of funds unless there was an independent evaluation of the project given the concerns over ecological imbalance that the project could have. Once the evaluation was done, the assessment would have to be shared with the board.
“It will give India one more chance to have a say in assistance to the project,” said a source.
Though the Indian move had raised eyebrows as it had happened in the backdrop of a series of actions against Pakistan post-Uri terror attack, government sources said the real issue was impact on ecology and it should not be seen with an India-Pakistan prism.
India argued that its opposition to the particular project was because it was “flawed” and could lead to disastrous consequences in the region.
India’s objection to the Glacier Lakes Outburst Flood (GLOF) project in Gilgit-Baltistan was articulated by the country’s representative Dinesh Sharma, special secretary in the finance ministry, during the GCF Board meeting on Wednesday.
Expressing his reservation to the “scaling up of GLOF risk reduction in northern Pakistan”, Sharma noted during his submission that the region had seen 960 odd disasters in 50 years and it was ecologically too fragile to sustain the project of this kind.
He had said that if the board would go by an assumption that there will be no disaster during the implementation period (five years) of the project, it would be a quite risky proposition. He said, “If disaster happens, our (GCF) reputation will be at stake”.
Reports even highlighted that a GLOF had caused massive destruction in the remote valley of Bindo Gol in Chitral district, damaging homes, communication links, orchards and agricultural lands in July, 2010.
The project is being piloted in Bindo Gol, Chitral, Bagrot and Gilgit in the first phase with the financial support by the UNDP. Once the pilot phase gets over, the second phase – worth $37 million – would require the funding from the United Nations Green Climate Fund.
Besides the Pakistani proposal, the Board also discussed and gave its nod to nine different proposals of other countries including Ecuador, Senegal, Morocco, Namibia and Madagascar. Pakistan’s project, however, got a conditional approval.
Under the GCF rule, the Board provides an approval that is conditional on modifications to project or programme design or subject to availability of funding. In the case of rejection, the Secretariat informs the concerned developing country that it may request reconsideration of the funding decision via an independent redressal mechanism.
The GCF is meant to help vulnerable societies adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. It is accountable to the UN and is guided by the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is governed by a Board of 24 members, comprising an equal number of members from developing and developed countries.