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World Bank okays $120-mn transport improvement project for Meghalaya

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD120-million project to improve and modernise the transport sector of Meghalaya.

The USD 120 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 14 years, including a grace period of six years.

The project will help Meghalaya to harness its vast growth potential for high-value agriculture and tourism, a spokesman of the World Bank said.

The Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate-resilient, and nature-based solutions. The segments will serve major agriculture areas, important tourist destinations, smallscale industries, major towns and underserved population by linking them to markets, health and education centres, besides national and international corridors. It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.

Today, about half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity. Difficult hilly terrain and extreme climatic conditions, including high and frequent rains, make Meghalaya’s transport challenges particularly complex, said the spokesman.

“This project will tap into Meghalaya’s growth potential in two ways. Within the state, it will provide the much-needed transport connectivity for underserved communities, farmers and firms. It will also position Meghalaya as a major connecting hub for international trade through the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Corridor,” said World Bank Country Director in India, Junaid Ahmad.

This operation will also support the state government’s “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will help restore transport services for the movement of agricultural produce, improve access to health facilities during COVID-19 type medical emergencies, benefit about 5,00,000 inhabitants and generate direct employment of about 8 million person days.

“Meghalaya is blessed with diverse agro-climatic zones, unique waterfalls, and root bridges with enormous potential for high-value tourism, agriculture and horticulture. By bringing in climate- resilient innovations, this project will offer the people of the state a reliable transport network that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Senior Highway Engineer Ashok Kumar.

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