MANILA, PHILIPPINES (31 May 2019) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $350 million loan to rehabilitate and upgrade state highways and major district roads in Chhattisgarh, which will improve connectivity and access to basic services and livelihood opportunities.

The state of Chhattisgarh is overwhelmingly rural (about 96% of the area), but rich in natural resources and a major producer of minerals such as coal and iron ore. However, according to the 2011 census, poverty levels were at about 38% of the population. A safe and efficient road network will significantly contribute to the state’s economy and development, and thus contribute to poverty reduction in the state.

“Chhattisgarh relies heavily on roads for the movement of people and goods, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas,” said ADB Transport Specialist Mr. Andri Heriawan. “The project will boost access of the poor to socioeconomic opportunities and to basic services such as health care and education, as well as improve the overall quality of life in the influence areas along the roads.”

About 70% of the state highways have only single or intermediate lanes, while most major and other district roads are single lanes. In a context where the number of registered vehicles has doubled, from 2.1 million in 2009 to 4.8 million in 2016, the roads need widening and strengthening to cater for increased demand, especially from larger goods vehicles. Recognizing this importance, the state government has established a road development strategy that aims to provide safer and higher capacity road connectivity between the state capital, district centers, and other rural hubs, as well as to provide efficient linkages between existing key corridors.

This project will support the state government’s strategy by rehabilitating or upgrading two state highways and 23 major district roads totaling about 850 kilometers (km) in length. The selected roads will be widened from single or intermediate lane width to two to four lanes. The project will also strengthen the institutional capacity of the Chhattisgarh Public Works Department in road maintenance and safety.

In villages and built-up areas, the project roads will include bus stops accessible to the elderly, women, children, and persons with disabilities, and street lighting for better security and road safety. Additionally, climate adaptation measures are being incorporated in the road design, such as increased road embankment height, increased dimension of drainage structures, and increased thickness and quality of bitumen.

The total project cost is $521.69 million, of which the government will finance $171.69 million. The estimated completion date is mid-2024.

ADB has supported Chhattisgarh’s road sector through two previous loans. The first loan, closed in 2012, was for $180 million and improved about 1,700 km of state highways and a second approved in 2012 for $300 million covered an additional 916 km of state highways.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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