$620-mn World Bank loan for highway

Tuesday, 28 December 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The World Bank has approved a $620- million loan for upgrading a stretch of the East-West National Highway corridor between Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

"This section of the East-West corridor runs through some of the poorest areas of the country," said Michael Carter, World Bank country director for India, in a statement Tuesday.

"These areas are expected to benefit directly from the improved physical access as well as indirectly from the spur to growth. The road will also help better connect more remote regions," said Carter.

The project is the fourth World Bank loan to support India's National Highway Development Project (NHDP) initiated in 1998. NHDP aims to strengthen and widen the core national highway network of about 14,300 km to four-lane standard by 2008.

The Lucknow-Muzaffarpur project entails upgrading this section of National Highway No. 28.

The National Highways Authority of India will implement the project over six years. The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 20-year maturity with a five-year grace period.

Road transport plays a significant role in India's economy, carrying 80 percent of the land transport demand.

The total length of India's national highway network is about 65,000 km. This is less than two percent of the total road network but carries over 40 percent of the road traffic.

Due to steady economic growth over the last decade, traffic on the national highways has grown by 6-7.5 percent per year.

"This project has a simple objective: for road users to benefit from a better journey between Lucknow and Muzaffarpur," said Piers Vickers, senior transport specialist for the World Bank and task leader for the project.

"This will be accomplished by reducing travel time and operating costs as well as making road conditions safer. We anticipate that as a result, overall user satisfaction with India's national highways in the region will be improved."

Source: IANS
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