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Japan mulls loan for roads in Northeast

New Delhi, Dec. 26: A Japanese aid agency may invest upto Rs 14,000 crore in construction of roads in the Northeast. The financial assistance will come in the form of loans.

The Union road transport and highways ministry had presented a bouquet of 12 projects in the Northeast, totalling Rs 14,900 crore, to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to pick and chose from. Four of these projects are in Assam, two each in Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland and one each in Tripura and Mizoram.

On Arunachal Pradesh being left out, the ministry claimed that the state was already getting financial assistance from the Centre in the form of Special Accelerated Road Development Programme and asking JICA for help would have been unnecessary duplication.

JICA is studying the viability of the 12 projects and has not yet decided on which ones and how many to chose.

“JICA has commissioned a data collection survey on transport infrastructure development for regional connectivity in and around South Asia. Among other things, the study team intends to identify requirements for transport infrastructure in the northeastern region of India,” Shinya Ejima, JICA’s Indian representative, said.

This is the first time that the Japanese aid agency will be making investments in road projects in the Northeast but it is not the first time they are working here. JICA has earlier funded the Guwahati Water Supply Project and forest management projects in Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland.

The list of projects includes the construction of a new bridge at Dawki. The old suspension bridge built by the British over the Umngot at Dawki in Meghalaya in 1932 can only take about six tonnes of traffic at a time. A Maruti 800 is about 650kg. This means only about nine of them can cross this bridge at a time.

JICA is also studying the 220km Imphal-Jiribam stretch of NH53 in Manipur (Rs 1600 crore). The Food Corporation of India’s godown is located at Jiribam, which is an important supply point for Imphal. The Border Roads Organisation has not been able to meet the deadline for improving this two-lane road and the Centre is now mulling pulling it out of the project.

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