MANILA, PHILIPPINES (16 November 2018) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $200 million to rehabilitate and upgrade about 230 kilometers (km) of state highways in India’s Bihar state.

“While the government has been progressively improving carriageway widths of state highways, about 35% of the roads have yet to meet the minimum two-lane standard,” said ADB Transport Specialist Mr. Kai Wei Yeo. “The project will support the government program to upgrade all state highways to at least standard two-lane width and improve road safety, while reconstructing, widening, and strengthening culverts and bridges.”

Bihar—India’s third most populous state, with about 104 million inhabitants—has lagged the country’s other states in economic development, but with increased investment in infrastructure and improved governance, the state aspires to grow at a faster rate than the country average. Bihar’s vision, as stated in its road master plan (2015–2035), is good transport accessibility and a high-quality road network.

The State Highways Development Program aims to widen all state highways to two lanes, and to improve bridges and district and rural roads. To this end, the Government of Bihar has stepped up investments in improving state highways and major district roads, but requires a combination of budgetary support, financial assistance from ADB, bilateral agencies such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and public-private partnerships.

Since 2008, ADB has provided four loans, amounting to $1.43 billion, to upgrade about 1,450 km of state highways and to construct a new bridge over the Ganga River near the state capital, Patna.

The roads selected for the current project are spread across Bihar’s rural areas that lack reliable road connectivity, resulting in limited access to health and education, commercial facilities, and government development agencies for the inhabitants. Since the road accident death rate in Bihar is much higher than the national average, the project will put strong emphasis on road safety and will conduct road safety awareness campaigns in the affected villages.

The project will also establish in Patna the Bihar Road Research Institute to improve institutional capacity at a technical level.

The total project cost is $304 million, of which the government will meet $104 million. The estimated completion date is the end of 2022.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

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