New Delhi: The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $500 million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The project will also enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in mainstreaming safety and green technologies.
India’s road network of 5.48 million km carries 65 percent of freight traffic and 85 percent of passenger traffic. The traffic volume on the network has been growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.8 percent in the last six decades. To strengthen and improve logistics performance of the network, the Government of India has launched many investment programs in road sector infrastructure. In order to limit carbon emissions in the implementation of these programs, the project will help the states adopt suitable green technologies, as well as materials that are resource efficient and low in carbon footprint.
The Green National Highways Corridors Project will support MoRTH construct 783 km of highways in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial byproducts, and other bioengineering solutions. The project will help reduce GHG emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.
Historically, the transport sector in India has offered limited employment opportunities for women. The project will support the ministry with an in-depth analysis of gender-related issues in the transport sector along with help in creating jobs for women by training women-led micro enterprises and women collectives to implement green technologies in the highway corridors.
“Connectivity for economic growth and connectivity for sustainable development are two important aspects of a country’s development trajectory. This operation brings these two priorities together in support of India’s growth strategy,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “This project will provide efficient transportation for road users in the four states, connect people with markets and services, promote efficient use of construction materials and water to reduce the depletion of scarce natural resources, and help lower GHG emissions,” he added.
The National Highways of India carry about 40 percent of road traffic. However, several sections of these highways have inadequate capacity, weak drainage structures and black spots prone to accidents. The project will strengthen and widen existing structures; construct new pavements, drainage facilities and bypasses; improve junctions; and introduce road safety features. It is imperative that the infrastructure investments are climate resilient. To this effect disaster risk assessment of about 5,000 km of the National Highway network will also be undertaken under the project along with support to ministry for mainstreaming climate resilience aspects in project design and implementation.
“The World Bank has been a key player in the development of the road sector in India. The Bank will leverage its global knowledge in green transport and support the states in mainstreaming climate resilience, resource efficiency, and green solutions in the development and maintenance of National Highways. Benefits accrued from this project can then be extended to the rest of the road network,” said T Pratap, Senior Transport Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.
The ultimate objective of transport infrastructure is to provide seamless connectivity and reduce logistics costs. In keeping with that the project will support analytics to map the freight volume and movement pattern on the National Highway network, identify constraints, and provide innovative logistics solutions.
Road safety being a critical issue, the project will include several safety interventions including building the capacity of agencies for crash database management and ensuring emergency medical response on the National Highways.