The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $500m multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Second Rural Connectivity Investment Program to improve rural roads in five Indian states.
Under the program, more than 12,000km of rural roads will be improved in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.
The ADB financed the first Rural Connectivity Investment Program in 2012 through an $800m MFF, which added 9,000km of all-weather rural roads in the five states.
In India, rural roads comprise 80% of all paved roads and connect rural areas with major district roads, state roads, and national highways.
The investment program will also support the state governments to improve rural road maintenance and safety.
The first tranche of $250m is expected in December 2017 and this will be used to construct an initial 6,254km of all-weather rural roads.
The second tranche for similar amount is expected in the third quarter of 2019.
The investment plan supports the government’s initiative for innovative approaches to reduce costs, conserve non-renewable natural resources, and promote the use of waste materials in rural road construction.
The road designs will consider climate risks with measures such as greater elevation of road embankments, slope protection, and better drainage in flood-prone areas.
Women, who were consulted during the project design, will have improved access to healthcare, livelihoods, and schooling.
At least a third of workers hired in road construction and maintenance works will be women.
The ADB will also provide an additional $500,000 technical assistance (TA) grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund to strengthen the sustainability of rural road assets, disaster resilience, and innovation in rural road development.
The technical assistance is due for completion in December 2021 and the investment programme is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
ADB transport specialist Andri Heriawan said: “All-weather roads are crucial for economic growth, especially in India’s rural areas.
“Building on the success of our previous assistance in the rural roads sector, ADB will work closely with the Government of India to provide the connectivity to improve rural communities’ access to markets, health centres, education facilities, and other opportunities.”