World Bank approves $362 mln loan to Orissa

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New Delhi, Oct 1 (UNI) The World Bank has approved a 362 million dollars loan to Orissa for improving road network and agricultural tank systems in the state.

The financial assistance includes 250 million dollars loan for 'Orissa State Road Project'and the rest for 'Orissa Community Tanks Management Project'.

The Road Project aims to remove transport bottlenecks in transport corridors through better performance, safety and capacity of priority roads, while Tanks Management Project will rehabilitate some 900 tanks covering a cultivable area of about 1,20,000 hectares spread across 29 districts of the state.

The 250 million dollars loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a 30 year maturity, including a five-year grace period.

''An efficient road transport system is critical for improving the state's investment climate and promoting a private-sector-led economic growth,'' The World Bank Senior Transport Economist and Task Leader for the Road Project Binyam Reja said in a statement.

The project will lead to a significant reduction in transport costs for businesses and households in project areas, and ultimately boost growth through a better investment climate that will help the state exploit its mining, industrial and tourism potential, he added.

Of the 112 million dollars loan, 56 million dollars credit is from the World Bank's concessionary lending arm International Development Association, and carries a 0.75 per cent service fee, a 10-year grace period and a maturity of 35 years The other 56 million dollars loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 30 year maturity, including a five-year grace period.

''The decline of tanks poses a serious threat to the agricultural economy of rain-fed areas dependent on tank irrigation in Orissa,'' World Bank Senior Economist and Task Leader for this project Deepak Ahluwalia said.

Tank irrigation plays an important role in agriculture, but most of the tanks are performing below capacity in the state.

Agriculture accounts for about 30 per cent of the state's GDP and provides employment to over 75 per cent of workers in the state.

While the sector has improved in recent years, average productivity levels are still low.

Orissa has nearly half of its 38 million people living under the official poverty line, most of them in rural areas.

UNI MP SG BD1312

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