The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of India have signed a USD 300-million loan to upgrade over 300 kilometres (km) of state highways and major district roads (MDRs) in Assam.
Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and Nilaya Mitash, Officer-in-Charge, India Resident Mission, ADB, have signed the agreement of the Assam South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Corridor Connectivity Improvement project.
After signing the loan agreement, Mishra stated that the project supports the government of Assam's flagship Asom Mala road improvement programme to enhance the quality and service of priority sections of state highway and MDR networks and fill critical infrastructure gaps.
"Improved connectivity and safe road networks developed through the project will enhance mobility and accessibility of people in the less developed areas of the state to markets and services to spur growth and contribute to its potential as a growth catalyst for the SASEC region," Mitash said in a statement of the finance ministry, which was released on Tuesday evening.
The roads, which are to be upgraded under the project including six road sections in the state's western, central and southern regions, are connected to SASEC corridors linking India with Bhutan and Bangladesh, according to the ministry of finance. These roads are expected to boost cross-border trade and transport. The ministry said the project would complement the multimodal logistics park being built in Jogighopa and another proposed in Silchar to serve road, rail, inland waterway, and air transport facilities.
The project will expand state highways and major district roads from single-lane to two lanes and introduce new climate- and disaster-resilient structures, according to the ministry's statement. It will establish pedestrian and public transport facilities, elevate highways in flood-prone areas, and include landslide prevention structures in hilly and mountainous regions.
The ministry said that community schools, water, health, sanitation facilities, and heritage and tourism sites will be restored in affected indigenous peoples' villages. The statement also said to protect wildlife and habitats in project areas, viaduct structures will be constructed to avoid human-elephant conflict in the elephant habitats.
In addition, the ministry said community road users, drivers, motorcycle riders, schoolteachers, and students would be informed and trained on road safety. The project will strengthen the capacity of the Assam Public Works (Roads) Department in managing road assets, integrating climate and disaster resilience in road projects, and ensuring safeguards -- such as environment, resettlement, and indigenous peoples' concerns -- are considered.
(With Inputs from ANI)