To upgrade rural roads to all-weather standards in 34 districts of Maharashtra and improve road safety, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Central government on Monday signed a 200 million dollar loan agreement.
The signatories to the loan agreement for the Maharashtra Rural Connectivity Improvement Project were Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India, and Sabyasachi Mitra, Deputy Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission, who signed for the ADB, read an official statement.
The project agreement was signed by Walter D'mello, Under Secretary, Finance Department and Pravin Kide, Secretary, Mukhya Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Maharashtra Rural Road Development Association (MRRDA).
"Improving rural connectivity is one of the key priorities of the Government of India, which will help enhance rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty among remote rural communities in project districts," Khare said after signing the loan agreement.
"Enhanced road connectivity and better access to markets will help the farmers increase agricultural productivity and incomes," he added.
Mitra stated that the project would "improve the condition of about 2,100-km of rural roads to all-weather standards, with climate resilience and safety features, connecting rural communities with productive agricultural areas and socio-economic centres."
"Provision of contractual maintenance for five years following construction has also been provided under the project," he added.
Maharashtra has an extensive road network, with rural roads making up two-thirds of the network.
The statement mentioned that "more than half of these rural roads are unsealed, making them unsuitable for motorized traffic and impassable during the rainy season."
"Road safety has been a growing concern with the state accounting for over 8 per cent of all fatal road accidents in India," stated the statement.
Accompanying the loan is a technical assistance grant of one million dollars for institutional strengthening of the MRRDA in areas such as road asset management, road safety, climate-resilient design and construction, and web-based real-time project monitoring.
Outreach for road users will be carried out in the state to build awareness of road safety, gender issues including human trafficking, and enhancing women's road construction and maintenance skills.
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