Guwahati, June 24: The World Bank board of executive directors has approved a $107 million loan for the Mizoram State Roads II Regional Transport Connectivity Project to improve transport connectivity for Mizoram to help open up the potential for regional trade among neighbouring countries.
The project will enhance Mizoram and other northeastern states’ road links with Bangladesh as well as with Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
Sources said World Bank is providing the entire project cost. Generally the Centre contributes some share of the project cost.
The World Bank said connectivity is crucial for a distant hill state such as Mizoram, which like the other northeastern states, is geographically isolated from the mainland. Long and difficult transportation routes over predominantly mountainous terrain have long hampered trade and development.
Sources said though the Centre had requested the World Bank to provide financing for about 420km of roads that enhance connectivity in Mizoram, the bank, said, since the preparatory activities for the proposed road works are at varying degrees of readiness, the project will fund the 91km of roads that are design-ready.
Roads that will be widened or strengthened include a 22km section of Lunglei-Tlabung-Kawrpuichhuah road on the border with Bangladesh, the 27.5km Champhai-Zokhawthar road on the border with Myanmar, and the 41.7km Chhumkhum-Chawngte North-South alignment connecting the border roads with Bangladesh to the west and Myanmar to the south. The project is also in line with World Bank’s gradual rebalancing of its programme towards low-income and special category states, like Mizoram, that despite recent strong growth rates, remain behind all India averages in terms of gross state domestic product and a range of human development indicators, and are heavily impacted by cross-border issues.
The World Bank in a statement said the link to Bangladesh would facilitate greater bilateral trade and access to the Chittagong port in the nearest shipping port for the Northeast. The link to the border with Myanmar will facilitate connectivity to Myanmar and the rest of East Asia and beyond. The Mizoram State Roads Project had helped build or rehabilitate over 400km of the state’s core road network, reducing travel time by half, and triggering significant socio-economic benefits in the project area.
“The project will also support Mizoram’s Road Sector Modernisation Plan to strengthen its institutions, enhance accountability; introduce new technologies to promote cost effective road construction; and strengthen road safety management systems. This will help transform the public works department into a modern road agency,” it said.