New Delhi: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $120-million project to improve the connectivity and efficiency of the transport sector in the hill state of Meghalaya. Better transport connectivity will help Meghalaya take advantage of its strategic location to emerge as a major connecting hub for trade with neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
The Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) will improve and maintain 300 km of state highways, major district roads and urban roads. The construction of three major bridges and missing sections in strategic corridors will help bring underserved communities into the mainstream.
Today, about half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity. Difficult hilly terrain, and extreme climatic conditions, including high and frequent rains, make Meghalaya’s transport challenges particularly complex.
The project, which will benefit about 500,000 inhabitants, has the following key priorities: provide the state with a well-connected, efficient, climate resilient, and safe transport network for its citizens, businesses, and industries and establish modern and high-performing institutions and policies. This will help Meghalaya implement its growth strategies specifically for tourism, agriculture and horticulture, leading to higher income and more jobs for its people.
“This project will tap into Meghalaya’s growth potential in two ways. Within the state, it will provide the much-needed transport connectivity for underserved communities, farmers, and firms. It will also position Meghalaya as a major connecting hub for trade with neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.
The World Bank’s state partnership with Meghalaya will allow for much wider, intense, and long-term support to the state to overcome its development challenges. This is specifically significant for the post COVID-19 recovery period when restoring transport services and improving the efficiency of transport agencies will particularly help in the movement of agriculture produce and create jobs through road construction and maintenance works under the project. It will also improve access to health facilities during COVID-19 type medical emergencies.
“Meghalaya is blessed with diverse agroclimatic zones, unique waterfalls, and root bridges with enormous potential for high-value tourism, agriculture and horticulture. By bringing in climate resilient innovations, this project will offer the people of the state a reliable transport network that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Ashok Kumar, Senior Highway Engineer and Reenu Aneja, Transport Specialist and Task Team Leaders for the project.
The $120 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 14 years including a grace period of six years.