Published On: Wed, May 31st, 2017

World Bank Agrees to Fund Bihar Rural road project

The World Bank has approved credit of USD 235 million  for the Bihar Rural Roads Project to improve and effectively manage the state’s rural road network. An agreement in this connect was signed between the Government of India, the Government of Bihar and the World Bank on May 29.

This project will support the construction of about 2,500 km of rural roads under the Mukhiya Mantri Gram Sampark Yojana (MMGSY). Its aim is to bring all parts of the state within five hours of travel time from the capital city of Patna, said Vinay Kumar, Secretary Rural Works Department, Government of Bihar.

The roads will be constructed using cost-effective designs, incorporating road safety engineering measures, and through better contract management practices to ensure quality and avoid time and cost over-runs.

The project will also support a road sector modernization plan that will help transform the Rural Works Department (RWD) into a modern and high-performing road agency capable of building and maintaining its road assets on sound technical principles using best practice examples.

RWD has already started to implement a human resources professional development strategy to build capacity and knowledge base at every level in RWD as well as capacity of the local construction industry.

Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India said that by investing in Bihar’s rural roads, this project is in fact tapping into the vast potential of the state’s agriculture and agro-based industries – a sector critical for higher non-farm employment opportunities and increases in rural wages.  But catalyzing connectivity and enhancing mobility is a critical plank for transforming rural India.

An important aspect of the project will be the use of climate resilient and cost-effective engineering designs using local materials and industrial by-products. The project will also use the alluvial sand that accumulates on large tracts of arable land after floods. This is expected to save more than 25 percent in construction costs for rural roads, said Ashok Kumar, Highways Engineer and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.

The state Rural Works Department is undertaking a climate vulnerability assessment of the existing rural road network, with a focus on floods, and incorporate suitable remedial measures in its road design, construction, and maintenance program.

The RWD has already prepared a road safety action plan for rural roads. Road safety engineering measures such as improved lane markings, protection structures, and road signs will be provided for.

The project will also undertake simple road safety audits during the design and construction stage as well as consult with local communities to identify their requirements for road safety enhancements. The project will also help the Rural Works Department preserve and upgrade existing road assets and strengthen its institutional effectiveness.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.

The agreements for the Bihar Rural Roads Project were signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Vinay Kumar, Secretary Rural Works Department, Bihar, on behalf of the Government of Bihar; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.

This project will generate direct employment of about 20 million person days for local labourers through a rural road construction and maintenance programme. Thirty percent of the people who are to benefit from the project live below the poverty line and about 48 percent of them are women.

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