New Delhi (NVI): India and World Bank have signed a pact of USD 500 million project to build green and safe national highway corridors in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
The Green National Highways Corridors project will enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in mainstreaming safety and green technologies, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
It 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 statement added.
This project will also help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.
The agreement was signed by C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the government of India and Sumila Gulyani, Acting Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
After signing of the pact, Mohapatra said that the government is committed to environmentally sustainable development in its infrastructure projects. This project will set new standards in the construction of safe motorable roads.
The ultimate objective of transport infrastructure is to provide seamless connectivity and reduce logistics costs, the statement said.
It added that, the government has launched many investment programs in road sector infrastructure to strengthen and improve logistics performance. This project will support analytics to map the freight volume and movement pattern on the National Highway network, identify constraints, and provide innovative logistics solutions.
“Historically, the transport sector in India has offered limited employment opportunities for women,” the statement noted.
In addition, the project will support the ministry with an in-depth analysis of gender-related issues in the 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.
World Bank Country Director (India) Junad Ahmad also said, “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.”
“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, the statement further said.
As it is imperative that the infrastructure investments are climate resilient, disaster risk assessment of about 5,000 km of the National Highway network will be undertaken under the project along with support to ministry for mainstreaming climate resilience aspects in project design and implementation, it added.
Meanwhile, the USD 500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of five years.