BHUBANESWAR, 30 January 2012: The Government of Odisha (GoO), today conducted a joint review of all externally aided projects with senior officials from the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Finance, and representatives from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) also made a presentation on how the state can improve its business environment, and leverage the investments from the private sector and the development potential of its entrepreneurs.
Three World Bank projects, totaling a commitment of $ 404.8 million, were reviewed. These included the Odisha Community Tank Management Project ($ 75.1 million), the Odisha State Roads Project ($ 250 million), and the Odisha Rural Livelihoods Project ($ 79.6 million). The ADB supported Odisha Integrated irrigated Agriculture and Water Management Improvement Program ($139 million)and the IFAD supported Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood program ($ 20 million) were also reviewed.
Chairing the meeting, B. K. Patnaik, Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha (GoO) said,” With preparation for the 12th plan underway, this review of the state’s externally funded projects is extremely timely. By implementing the current projects effectively and ensuring that people of Odisha receive the full benefits, we hope to attract more funds during the implementation of the new plan. Faster implementation and close monitoring will be key.”
“The joint review is aimed at understanding the implementation status of these projects, to share learning, and to find solutions for issues that might be impeding progress,” said Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “The Ministry is committed to ensure that low income states, such as Odisha, receive full support both in terms of access to external funds, as well as the knowledge and global implementation experience that accompany such loans.”
Earlier, on Sunday, the officials from DEA and the World Bank visited two projects covering water and rural finance in Cuttack and Puri districts, to review implementation, and to interact with members of the Pani Panchayats and women self help groups.
It is encouraging to see how rural communities, once empowered through partnership and training, can effectively work towards carving out a better future for themselves,” added Rajamony. “The women self help groups are a part of a quiet revolution happening across India, and have the potential to bring about major changes at the grassroot level.”
Reviewing the implementation of the projects, Hubert Nove-Josserand, World Bank’s Operations Adviser in India, said,” We saw good progress in two projects we visited yesterday – the community tank management project and rural livelihoods project – especially in the area of community mobilizing and training. However, the utilization of funds needs to speed up across all projects. Implementation of the State Roads project needs substantial improvement. An eight point action plan has been identified and a team will be visiting in February to review progress on them.”
“The state government has assured us that these issues will receive special attention and will be addressed on an urgent basis,” he added.
In addition to the review of the existing projects, GoO also proposed three new projects for the DEA to consider and pose to the World Bank - in water management, urban and mining sectors.
Implementation update on the three World Bank-supported projects reviewed today:
The Odisha State Roads Project: The US$ 250 million Odisha State Road Project, which was approved by the Bank in September 2008, is an important initiative by Government of Odisha. The Project aims to remove bottlenecks in selected transport corridors in the state and thereby significantly reduce transport costs for businesses and households in the project areas.
The Odisha Rural Livelihoods (Tripti) Project: The US$ 79.6 million Project aims to enhance the socio-economic status of the poor, especially women, through improved livelihoods. The Project currently reaches 990 village panchayats and over 300,000 target households in 10 districts of Odisha. Around 42,000 new Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed by the Project with a particular focus on the poorest women and inclusion of extremely poor households.
Odisha Community Tanks Project: The US$ 75.1 million Project aims to improve agricultural productivity and the effectiveness of water user associations to manage tank systems. The investments are for rehabilitation of tanks through civil and earth work, setting up field channels for water distribution, agriculture livelihoods promotion and capacity building of water user associations (Pani Panchayat or PP). Work has been initiated in nearly 150 tanks. Of which in 40 tanks implementation is at an advance stage. Demonstration on Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) has been taken up and women poultry vaccinators have been trained in convergence with line departments.