Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the media that the United Nations is “very appreciative” of India’s donation of the Gandhi Solar Park and is using the electricity it generates. Farhan was speaking at the daily briefing on November 11 when he made the statement. Reporters asked him if the solar panels given by India were being used and if they would power escalators that have been shut down in the UN’s austerity drive. To this Haq said that the issue with the escalators is an issue having to do with the UN's budget. The move was a result of cost-cutting measures, he said. The UN Committee will review the budget and bring in more services online once the money comes in, he added.
The UN was undergoing cash crunch as its biggest contributors, including the US have not paid all their dues. As a result, the world body had to introduce austerity measures on October 14 which included symbolic measures like turning off the fountain in front of the UN headquarters and the escalators. The UN has restricted travel, reduced translation and multilingual interpretation. The only escalators that remain functional are the ones used by the media and staffers. Staff on other floors now use lifts and fire escape staircases. As the solar park inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi provides free electricity, there was a proposal to use it to power the escalators.
The solar roof produces electricity of upto 50 kilowatts. PM Modi donated it to commemorate the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and to underline New Delhi’s commitment to fighting climate change. At a contribution of about USD 1 million, India gifted solar panels that have been installed on the roof of the UN Headquarters here, one panel each for every 193 UN member states. Energy generated in the park is equivalent to the energy created through the use of 30,000 kilograms of coal.