$ 444-million World Bank package for State

Staff Reporter

The fund will be used for road networks, agricultural tank systems and for rural poor.

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Government on Tuesday signed an agreement with World Bank for securing $ 444-million assistance package for improvement of road networks, renovation of agricultural tank systems and increasing livelihood opportunities of rural poor.

According to a State Gvernment release, $ 250 millions would be spent on road network development, tank renovation and livelihood strengthening programme would have $ 112 millions and $ 82.4 millions respectively.

The road project aimed at removing transport bottlenecks in transport corridors through better performance, safety, and capacity of priority roads, the statement said.

Moreover, it would increase the role of the private sector in road infrastructure and assist the State Government to establish an institutional and governance framework in the sector, it said.

Similarly, the Orissa Community Tanks Management Project would rehabilitate some 900 tanks covering a cultivable area of about 120,000 hectares spread across 29 districts of the State, the Statement issued after the agreement said.

It said the project would support improvements in production technologies and management practices, and better market linkages. “It will also strengthen community-based institutions, enabling them to assume greater responsibility for tank management.

This is expected to increase productivity in agriculture, livestock and fisheries, and promote more effective and sustainable management of tank systems,” the State Government said.

Under the Orissa Rural Livelihoods project, attempts would be made to empower poor rural people, especially women and disadvantaged groups, through their inclusion in self-help groups (SHGs).

“These groups will prove to be the primary mechanism for chanelling micro-finance to the poor in the State. The project will also support creating new SHGs and strengthening existing groups.”

The project would support the development of a Community Investment Fund, which would transfer grants to Self Help Groups for investments at the household level.

This fund will also help these community groups build institutional capacity, leverage additional funds from mainstream financial institutions, and develop new financial projects that better address the needs of the poor and their organization, it said.

At the agreement signing ceremony held at New Delhi, Joint Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs Alok Sheel, country director for the World Bank Roberto Zagha, and State’s engineer-in-chief-cum-secretary in works department Subhendu Kumar Ray and Special Secretary of Water Resources Management Surendra Kumar were present.

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