The FINANCIAL -- The government of India and the World Bank have signed a $160 million credit for the Rajasthan Road Sector Modernization Project to support the government of Rajasthan improve rural connectivity, enhance road safety and strengthen the road sector management capacity of the state, according to The World Bank Group.
In recent years Rajasthan has made considerable progress with developing its rural roads under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) – a flagship program of the government of India. More than 80% of its habitations, with population of over 500, now have road connectivity. However, some 7,357 villages in the state, with population below 500, do not have road connectivity as they are not covered under the PMGSY.
The credit agreement for the project was signed by Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, on behalf of the government of India; J C Mohanty, principal secretary, Public Works Department (PWD) on behalf of the government of Rajasthan and Manoj Jain, lead financial management specialist, World Bank, India.
“Government of India is committed to further improve rural connectivity in India. This loan from the World Bank will help the government improve rural connectivity and strengthen its road safety management system. The aim of this project is also to gradually transform the Public Works Road Department into a modern road agency by introducing good practices, strategic planning, and project and asset management,” said Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance.
The Rajasthan Road Sector Modernization Project will construct 2500 km of rural roads, connect around 1300 villages that are currently not covered under the PMGSY and also undertake preparatory studies for improving 700 km of priority sections of the state highways. The roads will be built to a bitumen surface standard and will include all necessary bridges and cross drainage works in order to maintain year-round connectivity, according to The World Bank Group.
The key components of the project include improving rural connectivity through construction of roads; supporting the government of Rajasthan’s Road Sector Modernization Plan (RRSMP) by strengthening institutions, enhancing accountability and introducing new technologies to promote cost effective road construction; and strengthening road safety management systems.
“The Country Partnership Strategy for the World Bank in India is committed to working towards fostering inclusive growth in low-income states like Rajasthan. This project will build on our long engagement in the road sector in India by connecting small and remote habitations in the state to the mainstream. This will help improve access to markets, healthcare and education while creating new jobs and boosting agriculture,” said Manoj Jain, lead financial management specialist, World Bank, India. “An important aspect of the project will be on strengthening road safety in order to bring down the number of fatalities and serious injuries from traffic accidents in the state,” he added.
Recognizing that road safety is a critical issue in the country today, the project will support the strengthening of road safety management systems with the objective of reducing fatalities and serious injuries from road accidents in the state. It will include a 100 km safe corridor demonstration project which will focus on measures to improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, passengers and motorized two-wheelers. The safe corridor will benefit from a multi-sectoral approach with better engineering, enforcement, health care and community awareness.
“The project will support the on-going roads modernization agenda of the Public Works Department (PWD) through improved asset management, financial sustainability and road user focus. The project will also demonstrate best practice in road design and construction, traffic management to improve road safety and environmental protection measures,” said Mesfin Wodajo Jijo, senior transport specialist and the project’s task team leader.
The gradual transformation of the PWD will not only help enhance the quality and effectiveness of its delivery but also sustain the assets created under these programs, according to The World Bank Group.
The Project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.