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$800 Million Program to Link 4,200 Indian Villages to Crucial Services and Markets
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – A new four-part $800 million investment program from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help build 9,000 kilometers of rural roads in five Indian states, connecting 4,200 far-flung communities year-round to crucial markets and services.
“Thousands of kilometers of highways between major cities criss-cross India but building the final connection from the main roads to smaller towns and villages will mean farmers can transport their goods to markets, men and women can seek jobs, and children can get to schools and hospitals,” said Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB’s South Asia Department.
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ADB’s investment program is part of a larger $1.2 billion program to connect villages in the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and West Bengal with all-weather roads by the end of 2017. The Indian government will finance the remainder of the program.
ADB’s Board of Directors today approved the investment program, as well as the first $252 million loan under the program. Subsequent loans will be provided when ADB is assured that activities under the previous tranche are on target.
Across India, many communities have no direct link to nearby towns or villages or, at best, use unmade roads that are often washed out or destroyed during the rainy season. In many parts of these states, roads are unusable for up to 90 days a year. This has held back development in large swathes of the Indian countryside. The poverty rates in the five states covered by the project are among the highest in India.
The Indian government has been working since 2000 to link all the country’s rural communities through its Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana nationwide rural road investment program. That program has already built nearly 109,000 kilometers of rural roads in the five states, connecting nearly 40,000 communities to bigger transport networks and it is in the process of constructing 32,000 kilometers more. ADB has already provided a total of $1.15 billion through two separate projects in 2003 and 2005 to help finance those roads.
The ADB loans under the investment program will also be used to improve road planning and maintenance; upgrade road design and safety; and build the skills of engineers, site supervisors, and technicians. It will do that by setting up and supporting the rollout of six Rural Road Network Management Units and one Rural Connectivity Training and Research Center in each state.