MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending $200 million to improve the water supply and other urban services in Guwahati and Dibrugarh―two major cities in the Indian state of Assam.

The ADB Board of Directors has approved the multitranche financing facility for the Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Program, with a first tranche loan of $81 million and second tranche of $119 million. Funds will be used to provide clean piped water to about 350,000 residents in Guwahati―the state capital―as well as for major upgrades to sewerage and solid waste systems in the two cities.

A 10 km-long bus rapid transit corridor will be developed in Guwahati. The scheme will serve more than 40,000 people a day, shorten travel time and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Given the importance of Assam as the gateway to economic development in northeast India, ADB and the Government have embarked on a long-term strategic development partnership to improve the urban infrastructure and increase state capacity," said Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Director General of ADB's South Asia Department.

"The investment program entails an integrated approach to urban development in Guwahati and Dibrugarh in Assam by delivering a 24x7 water supply and treatment of incremental wastewater," said Sangay Penjor, Principal Urban Development Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department. "It will also develop an environmentally friendly and sustainable bus rapid transit system; and significant institutional reforms."

Only about one in three of Guwahati's one million residents have access to piped water. In Dibrugarh, inadequate solid waste management and the indiscriminate dumping of waste have choked the drainage system, causing severe flooding in the rainy season.

ADB has helped the Government of Assam draw up a 10-year road map for developing urban services and the program will support the state's overall investment plans. The water supply upgrade in southeastern Guwahati will complement improvements being carried out elsewhere in the city funded by the national government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Sewerage infrastructure in Guwahati will be constructed, including a new treatment plant, pipes and pumping stations. In Dibrugarh, solid waste collection coverage will increase to more than 80% of households and will include recycling. Drainage in the city will be improved by removing waste from waterways and by widening and rebuilding flood relief culverts, bridges and sluice gates.

Linked technical assistance will also help lay the groundwork for reforms to turn the Guwahati Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board into a sustainable, autonomous body. The program is due to be completed by December 2017.

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