World Bank’s board of executive directors have approved a $120-million project recently to improve and modernize the transport sector in Meghalaya. This will help Meghalaya to harness its vast growth potential for high-value agriculture and tourism.
The Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) will improve about 300-km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate resilient and nature-based solutions. The segments will serve major agriculture areas, important tourist destinations, small-scale industries, major towns and underserved populations by linking them to markets, health and education centres, and national and international corridors. It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.
A press release of the World Bank says about half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity. Difficult hilly terrain, and extreme climatic conditions, including high and frequent rains make Meghalaya’s transport challenges particularly complex.
“This project will tap into Meghalaya’s growth potential in two ways. Within the state, it will provide the much-needed transport connectivity for underserved communities, farmers, and firms. It will also position Meghalaya as a major connecting hub for international trade through the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal corridor,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank country director in India.
This operation will also support the state’s government ‘Restart Meghalaya Mission’ to revive and boost development activities affected due to COVID-19 pandemic. It will help restore transport services for the movement of agricultural produce, improve access to health facilities during COVID-19 type medical emergencies, benefit about 500,000 inhabitants, and generate direct employment of about 8 million person days.
“Meghalaya is blessed with diverse agro-climatic zones, unique waterfalls, and root bridges with enormous potential for high-value tourism, agriculture and horticulture. By bringing in climate resilient innovations, this project will offer the people of the state a reliable transport network that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Ashok Kumar, a senior highway engineer for the project.
The $120 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 14 years including a grace period of six years.