World Bank gives $220 mn aid to flood-hit Bihar (Lead)

January 12th, 2011 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Jan 12 (IANS) The World Bank Wednesday signed a $220 million reconstruction aid agreement with the Bihar government to rebuild the flood-affected areas of the state with new bridges, roads and houses. “With a large number of people vulnerable to flooding each year, this project marks the start of a new phase in our relations with Bihar to help meet the state’s long term need for comprehensive disaster management,” said Robert B. Zoellick, group president, World Bank.

He said that the floods take a terrible toll on the people of Bihar and two years on, despite various relief efforts, many people remain in temporary shelters, unable to earn a living and isolated by the destruction of roads and bridges.

In 2008, floods in the Kosi basin of north Bihar affected about 3.3 million people in five districts of the state.

Zoellick announced that another Rs.3,500 crore (about $770 million) would be given to Bihar to support flood recovery efforts, reduce risks from flooding and boost emergency responses in the event of future disasters.

According to him, the Bihar Kosi Recovery Project is the first in a series of proposed new projects for the state which is likely to be provided with about $1 billion in support over the next few years.

The agreement was signed during Zoellick’s visit to the state capital where he also met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other senior government officials.

The World Bank said the aid was aimed to support flood recovery efforts, while reducing the risks from future flooding, and to boost emergency responses in the event of disasters.

“The new project aims to help Bihar’s flood-affected people by supporting the reconstruction of about 100,000 houses, and the rebuilding of 90 bridges and 290 kilometres of rural roads,” an official statement said.

The Bihar government welcomed the move and termed it as a significant development towards mitigating any future devastation caused by floods in the state.

“We welcome an expanded engagement with the bank on disaster management, as well as in other key areas of economic development,” said Nitish Kumar.

“The World Bank and the Bihar government are keen to build on our strong partnership developed over the past five years,” he said.

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