World Bank to provide $1.5 bn for rural roads in India

January 14th, 2011 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The World Bank will provide $1.5 billion to help build 24,000 km of roads in economically backward and hilly areas across seven states of India. “These roads will not only connect people to markets and services but also create jobs in rural areas,” World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick, who is on a visit to India, said.

This will be the largest assistance provided by the World Bank for the rural roads project in India.

The World Bank funding will be used to supplement the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), or Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Programme. Over six million people are likely to directly benefit from the World Bank’s assistance.

“Under the PMGSY programme, some 375,000 km of new roads are being constructed and another 372,000 km improved at an estimated cost of about $40 billion. The World Bank is supplementing our efforts in providing all-weather connectivity,” said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The all-weather roads will be built in Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, and any other state which may join the programme at a later date over the next five years, according to a World Bank statement released here.

The construction and maintenance of these roads will create an estimated 300 million person-days of employment for the rural people. More than 20,000 engineers as well as many contractors and skilled and unskilled workforce will be trained in modern rural road engineering practices and business procedures, it said.

The World Bank has also agreed to provide $225 million to support the first phase of India’s national programme to mitigate the impact of cyclones. The project marks the first disaster risk mitigation initiative to be implemented in India.

More than one million people living in the coastal areas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are set to benefit from the programme.

The project aims to upgrade early warning and communications systems to reach vulnerable communities in coastal areas. It will also help boost the ability of local communities to respond to disasters, improve access to emergency shelters in high risk areas and strengthen disaster risk management capability at the central, state and local levels.

Zoellick has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the finance minister as well as other senior leaders and policy markers to discuss the global economy, G20, and opportunities and challenges for Indian economy in the wake of global economic crisis.

“We see an increased role of the World Bank in recycling global savings to developing countries and emerging markets as one of the approaches to resolve global imbalances,” Mukherjee said after meeting the World Bank chief.

“We also discussed on ways that India’s development experience, expertise and skills can be shared with other developing economies,” he added.

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