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$300m ADB loan for NE road connectivity

KALYAN BAROOAH

NEW DELHI, Mar 27 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $300 million loan, envisaged to improve road connectivity and increasing domestic and regional trade along the North Eastern region-North Bengal international trade corridor.

ADB sources said that the loan is the first under a $500 million multi-tranche South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Programme. The programme will build about 500 km of roads in the North Bengal and North Eastern region of India, helping to resolve the constraint of ‘last-mile’ connectivity between the in-country trunk road network and neighbouring countries.

“Improvements in road connectivity in the North Eastern region and North Bengal will enable efficient and safe transport within India and regionally with other SASEC member countries,” said country director of ADB’s India Resident Mission M Teresa Kho, who signed the loan agreement on behalf of the ADB.

The programme was endorsed by the SASEC trade facilitation and transport working group at a meeting in Singapore on October 30, 2013, said sources.

“The project area under the investment programme is a key strategic thoroughfare, integrating the regions of South and Southeast Asia, with the corridor connecting the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal,” said Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Tarun Bajaj, who signed for the Government of India.

The tranche-1 project will construct two national highways totalling about 180 km in Manipur, extending to Myanmar and 150 km in West Bengal and State roads. The project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2021.

The ADB’s loan of $300 million makes up nearly 71 per cent of the total project cost of almost $425 million, with the Central and State governments providing counterpart finance of about $125 million.

The loan has a 25-year term, including a five-year grace period with an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility, said sources.