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Yen pours in for highway upgrade

Patna, Jan. 31: Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) today signed an overseas development assistance loan agreement with India to provide Yen 21,426 million (Rs 1,267 crore approximately) for phase-II of the Bihar National Highway Improvement Project.

The loan has been provided for upgrade of National Highway-82 connecting Gaya to Biharsharif covering 92.93km. Under the agreement, the funds would be used for widening roadway into four lanes and for constructing three bypasses circumventing congested areas.

The agreement was signed by Shinya Ejima, the chief representative of Jica India office, and Rajesh Khullar, the joint secretary (bilateral cooperation), ministry of finance, Government of India in New Delhi.

“Japan places great importance to improvement of social as well as physical infrastructure in India. We all know India has the potential but suffers because of lack of physical and social infrastructure. The loan being given for upgrade of highway in Bihar should cut travel time, promote tourism and lead to overall development of the state. The highway route runs through Rajgir and shall improve connectivity to the new Nalanda university as well,” said Ejima.

Jica is an independent administrative institution that aims to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation and it also provides financial assistance for socio-economic development in developing regions.

The loan extended at concession rate of 1.4 per cent carries a repayment period of 30 years with grace period of 10 years. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) through Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC) would execute the project. The project would be completed by February 2019.

Sources in the BSRDC informed that the process of resettlement of existing occupants along the existing two-lane road has already started. “The width of the existing road is 6-7m with 1-1.5m of unpaved shoulders on either side. The existing right of way (a strip of land granted for a transportation facility) on the other hand is 18m to 60m, which is also encroached at various locations, specifically in market areas and villages. As the existing right of way is not sufficient, thus, suitable land acquisition would be done for four-laning. The process for selection of NGO for the respective resettlement plan is going on at present,” said a BSRDC official.

Sources said the widening might not be done over a stretch of around 4.5km in the existing NH-82 that passes through Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary because it being a protected forest area. However, work would be done for strengthening of the existing two-lane road on this stretch.

Sources said the Gaya-Biharsharif highway project would also involve advance traffic management system as proposed under the Patna-Gaya-Dobhi project. “Sensors would be fitted into the median and CCTVs would be placed at a reasonable height on poles along the road,” said the BSRDC official.