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World Bank pledges $1 billion for urban transport, agriculture in Maharashtra

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-03-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: The World Bank has agreed to lend over $1 billion to Maharashtra for two projects in the areas of urban transport and climate change. World Bank chief executive officer (CEO) Kristalina Georgieva made this announcement in Mumbai after a meeting with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis here on Tuesday.

Georgieva said this was the highest assistance the World Bank has committed to any Indian state. World Bank India country director Junaid Ahmad said the lending would be extended at Libor-plus rate for a period of 18 to 20 years.

The World Bank CEO said apart from the direct assistance of $1 billion, the organization would also help Maharashtra draw in funding from other multilateral lending agencies and private sector. “The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has already expressed interest to finance,” she said.

The assistance would be used to fund the third phase of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), a Rs10,947-crore project, which seeks to provide alternate and additional train routes to decongest existing suburban train networks, and a climate resilient agriculture programme in dry-land regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. Lending for the two projects would be distributed over the next two to three years.

Over the last five years, the World Bank has invested over $1.4 billion in Maharashtra in the areas of urban transport, including the phase two of MUTP, rural water supply, and agriculture, according to a press release issued by World Bank.

Earlier in the day, the World Bank CEO travelled in the second class coach of a suburban train from Churchgate to Dadar to experience first-hand challenges and opportunities for improving the public transport system.

Asked about the experience, Georgieva said she needed to come again and travel during the rush hour. “People I spoke to on the train said they were willing to pay for better services,” she said adding the funding for MUTP 3 should be used to improve the safety standards.

She expressed satisfaction over the progress of MUTP adding all her doubts were cleared.

Though the WB board has not yet formally approved assistance for the climate resilient agriculture project, Georgieva said the Bank was willing to fund the project.

The project aims to promote efficient use of water, improve agriculture productivity, encourage multi-cropping pattern, and appropriate land use, in 5000 drought-prone villages of Vidarbha and Marathwada.

Maharashtra is already implementing two World Bank-funded projects, a $100 million agriculture competitiveness project and a $165 million rural water supply and sanitation programme.

Fadnavis said World Bank and Maharashtra had a long-standing association. “The good thing about the World Bank is that it not only brings funding but also knowledge, technological expertise, and it helps us develop a whole ecosystem favourable for project implementation,” he said.

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