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World Bank approves USD 452 million program to improve connectivity in Assam

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New Delhi | March 2, 2024 9:57:04 AM IST
The World Bank has approved a new program to improve connectivity for over 1.8 million people living in rural areas, especially during extreme weather in the state of Assam.

Assam is the largest state in northeast India and the gateway to Southeast Asia and South Asian markets. With its abundant natural resources like tea and spices, Assam has the potential to leapfrog to the next level of competitiveness in the global value chain.

However, it is frequently exposed to climate events such as floods, cyclones, and landslides. Currently, smallholder farmer communities and tribal settlements are not well connected to all-season bridges and roads, and this affects their lives and livelihoods.

According to a World Bank release, the USD 452 million Assam Resilient Rural Bridges Program is aimed at strengthening the resilience and management of roads and bridges to help people living in 1,739 villages gain round-the-year access to wholesale markets, schools, hospitals, and places of work.

As a result of better connectivity, savings of more than USD 82 million within the next six years are expected against the earlier costs, the release said.

The Program will also connect almost 633,000 women-led textile and handicraft producers living within 2 km of roads or collection points.

"The Program will support the Government of Assam to attract private investment for quality jobs, increase farmers' incomes and enhance value chains thus promoting inclusive and diversified growth in the rural sector," said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank's Country Director for India.

The Program will help to strengthen the Assam Public Works Roads Department's financial and procurement processes using the state's own systems and provide training to improve disaster risk management.

"In addition, it will help increase women's participation by almost 20 per cent in jobs related to bridge design, construction and maintenance, as well as operating digital platforms at rural transportation hubs," said Tesfamichael Mitiku, Anup Karanth, and BKM Ashraful Islam, the Task Team Leaders for the Program.

The World Bank loan has a maturity of 19 years with a grace period of 4.5 years. (ANI)

 
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