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ADB approves $200m loan for Assam

Guwahati, Oct. 3: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a $200 million loan for six years to improve urban development in Assam. It will cover two main cities — Guwahati and Dibrugarh.

The Assam urban infrastructure investment programme was cleared by the board of directors of ADB in Manila today. The total cost of the project is $280 million, of which ADB will provide $200 million and the rest will come from the Centre. The ADB assistance will be rolled out in two tranches — $81 million and $119 million.

The project concept was cleared on May 16. A fact-finding mission, from May 23 to June 7, followed. The next step will be to sign a loan agreement between the Centre, the state government and ADB within one year, failing which the validity of approval of the loan will lapse automatically.

“The investment programme entails an integrated approach to urban development in Guwahati and Dibrugarh in Assam by delivering a 24x7 water supply and treatment of waste water,” the bank said in a statement, quoting Sangay Penjor, the principal urban development specialist in the ADB’s South Asia department. “It will also develop an environment friendly, bus rapid transit system and carry out significant institutional reforms,” he added.

A senior official in Dispur said the project, besides financial aid, would include policy dialogue, which will focus on an integrated approach to urban development. He said past lessons had taught that a strategic, holistic and integrated approach was better that the infrastructure-driven one in urban sector.

For Guwahati, the funds will be used to improve water supply, sewerage, transport and social amenities while Dibrugarh will benefit by investments in drainage, solid waste management and basic services for the poor.

The water supply upgrade in southeastern Guwahati will complement improvements being carried out elsewhere in the city with funds from the Centre and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Only about one in three of the city’s one million residents have access to piped water. There is no sewer system in the city except in some government or township areas. The assistance will be used to construct sewerage infrastructure, including a new treatment plant, pipes and pumping stations. Technical assistance will help lay the groundwork for reforms to turn the Guwahati Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board into an autonomous body.

A 10km bus rapid transit corridor will be developed in the city. The scheme will serve more than 40,000 people a day and shorten travel time.

In Dibrugarh, inadequate solid waste management and indiscriminate dumping of waste have choked the drainage system, causing severe flooding in the rainy season. Solid waste collection coverage will increase to more than 80 per cent of households and include recycling. Drainage will be improved by removing waste from waterways and by widening and rebuilding flood relief culverts, bridges and sluice gates.

This year, ADB has helped Dispur chalk out a 10-year road map for developing urban services and this programme, scheduled to be completed by December 2017, will support the state’s overall investment plans.

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