The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Tuesday (3 January) signed a $350 million loan to improve the connectivity of key economic areas in Maharashtra.
The loan will be used to upgrade 319 kilometers of state highways and 149 kilometers of district roads in the 10 districts of Ahmednagar, Hingoli, Jalna, Kohalpur, Nagur, Nanded, Nashik, Pune, Sangli, and Satara.
It will also be used to construct 5 km of major district roads connecting Nanded and neighboring Telangana.
“This will help in connecting underdeveloped rural communities with off-farm opportunities and markets, improve access to health and social services and improve agricultural value chains by reducing transport costs for small and medium-sized enterprises,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, additional secretary in Union Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs, and Hoe Yun Jeong, officer-in-charge of ADB’s India resident mission.
After signing the loan agreement, Mishra stated that the project will help address intra-regional disparities by improving connectivity, facilitating access to services, and accelerating inclusive economic growth of lagging districts in the state.
“This project builds on ADB’s ongoing support to upgrade state highways and major district roads in Maharashtra,” said Jeong.
“It demonstrates approaches and practices that are not yet common practice, including road safety demonstration corridors; climate change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction; and highway works programs responsive to the needs of women, children, the elderly, and people with disability,” Jeong added.
The project will also promote gender equality and social inclusion in highway programs, schools, health, and social services and set up integrated service centers to provide basic sanitation, education, and other services, the ministry said.
“Skills training for enterprises led by poor women and disadvantaged groups will be conducted to provide livelihood opportunities,” it added.
Further, the project will demonstrate the private sector’s effectiveness in undertaking long-term road maintenance for greater life-cycle quality and operational efficiency.
It will also develop a good practice handbook for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in road design and maintenance, according to the ministry.