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Project for glacial flood risk reduction stuck in red tape

Updated May 05, 2019

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Official blames delay on a federal ministry saying it took months to approve work plans. ─ File photo
Official blames delay on a federal ministry saying it took months to approve work plans. ─ File photo

PESHAWAR: The launch of the Phase-II of the Glacial Lake Outbursts Flood (Glof) project in five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been delayed by several months with officials of the province blaming it on red tape in the federal climate change ministry.

The project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the estimated annual cost of Rs4.3 billion covers Gilgit-Baltistan and five districts of KP and is meant to reduce risk from Glof in the northwestern Pakistan, where around 3,044 glacial lakes have formed over the years.

The Glof-I project was piloted in two districts one each from KP and GB, while Glof-II scales up the project from its initial two to 10 districts in both regions and is likely to benefit around 29 million people.

An official familiar with the project told Dawn that the project was progressing very slowly in KP the responsibility for which lied with the federal climate change ministry that wanted to run the project from Islamabad but both KP and GB refused to accept it.

He said the climate change ministry took several months to approve the work plans submitted by the KP government in April.

Official blames delay on a federal ministry saying it took months to approve work plans

“GB has already chalked out all activities and is about to start physical work on infrastructure schemes, while in KP’s departments concerned are still in the process of formulating ToRs for hiring consultants and firms,” he said.

The official said a quarter of the current year had already been lost due to delays on part of the climate change ministry, while the second quarter was likely to be consumed in settling the hiring of consultants and firms and other issues.

The official feared that further delays would push the project’s launch to the end of the current year, wherein work came to a grinding halt in those districts for being snow-bound.

“The delay in the project’s launch may cause loss of a whole year,” he said.

The official said had the project been launched in Jan this year, work on it would have begun on ground in these districts by the end of March.

He said the Glof-I was piloted in Chitral in its first phase, while the next phase was to cover Upper Dir, Shangla, Swat and Mansehra districts besides Chitral.

An official document available with Dawn also shows that the project has lost the first quarter of the current year in settling issues.

The document shows that KP Planning and Development (P&D) department had earlier reflected the project in the annual development programme (ADP) 2018-19 under the environment department.

An official objected to the making of the P&D department main party in the project saying the department only plans and coordinates schemes and projects and has never had such a position in any project.

He said the P&D department would receive funds from the UNDP before releasing them to the relevant departments.

“The Glof is all about disaster risk management, which is purely the responsibility of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority with which the Provincial Reconstruction and Settlement Authoritywas merged recently.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019