Project Signing: Nearly 1.2 Million People to Benefit from All-Weather Roads in Bihar

May 29, 2017

NEW DELHI, May 29, 2017: The Government of India, the Government of Bihar and the World Bank today signed a $235 million credit for the Bihar Rural Roads Project to improve and effectively manage the state's rural road network.

The agreements for the Bihar Rural Roads Project were signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Vinay Kumar, Secretary Rural Works Department (RWD), Bihar, on behalf of the Government of Bihar; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.

World Bank

“This project will support the construction of about 2,500 km of rural roads under the Mukhaya Mantri Gram Sampark Yojana (MMGSY). Its aim is to bring all parts of the state within five hours of travel time from the state capital. The project would also bring in innovations such as road safety programme and road sector modernization plan,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.

The roads will be constructed using cost-effective designs, incorporating road safety engineering measures, and through better contract management practices to ensure quality and avoid time and cost over-runs. RWD has already started to implement a human resources professional development strategy to build capacity and knowledge base at every level in RWD as well as capacity of the local construction industry.

“The Government of Bihar has made road connectivity to each habitation among its top seven priorities. While Bihar has constructed about 60,000 km of rural roads in the last decade, nearly 49 percent of its habitations still lack access to an all-weather road. This project will provide all-weather road access to some 1.2 million people, most of whom belong to the poor and vulnerable sections of society,” said Vinay Kumar, Secretary, Rural Works Department, Government of Bihar.

Thirty percent of the people who are to benefit from the project live below the poverty line and about 48 percent of them are women. It will generate direct employment of about 20 million person days for local laborers through a rural road construction and maintenance program.

"Catalyzing connectivity and enhancing mobility is a critical plank for transforming rural India,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank, Country Director in India. He further stated "By investing in Bihar’s rural roads, this project is in fact tapping into the vast potential of the state’s agriculture and agro-based industries – a sector critical for higher non-farm employment opportunities and increases in rural wages."

An important aspect of the project will be the use of climate resilient and cost-effective engineering designs using local materials and industrial by-products. The project will also use the alluvial sand that accumulates on large tracts of arable land after floods. "This is expected to save more than 25 percent in construction costs for rural roads," said Ashok Kumar, Highways Engineer and World Bank's Task Team Leader for the project. The state Rural Works Department is undertaking a climate vulnerability assessment of the existing rural road network, with a focus on floods, and incorporate suitable remedial measures in its road design, construction, and maintenance program.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) - the World Bank's concessionary lending arm - with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.

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