Patna,(BiharTimes): The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Friday signed a Japanese ODA loan agreement with the Government of India to provide 22,903 million Japanese Yen (Rs 1,350 crore) for the Bihar National Highway Improvement Project. The agreement was signed by Toshiyuki Kuroyanagi, Vice President, JICA Tokyo and Rajesh Khullar, Joint Secretary (Bilateral Cooperation), Ministry of Finance of India in New Delhi.
The loan has been provided for upgradation of National Highway 83 connecting Patna to Dobhi via Gaya and Bodh Gaya covering 127 km. The loan at concessional rate of 1.4 per cent carries a repayment period of 30 years with grace period of 10 years.
Under the agreement the funds would be used for widening of roadway into four lanes and for building of bypasses, bridges, service lanes on National Highway 83. The project shall be executed by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and National Highways Authority of India.
Improvement in National Highways is most vital for social and economic growth of the country. The National Highways in India constitute 76,818 kilometers, or about two per cent of the total 4.11 million kilometers of total road network of the country. However, they bear about 40 per cent of transportation on the road network as a whole, and are therefore highly critical. Keeping this factor in mind the Government of India in the 12th Five Year Plan, (running from April 2012 to March 2017) plans to implement upgradation of the main trunk roads, mainly through the promotion of National Highways Development Project.
Although Bihar is also one of the most impoverished states of India and 53.5 per cent of the State’s population lives below the poverty line (2010), it has achieved remarkable economic growth in recent years. With the economic development and increase in population, the number of vehicles in Bihar increased from 1.02 million to 2.67 million from fiscal year 2002 to 2011. However, the road length per 100,000 people was only 125.85 kilometers, in comparison to an average of 387.57 for the entire India. Hence, the road network must be improved quickly to meet the rapidly growing demand for road transportation and promote economic growth in Bihar.
According to Shinya Ejima, Chief Representative of JICA India, “Japan places great importance to improvement of infrastructure in India. Bihar is India’s one of the biggest state and is rapidly developing but lack of quality highways has been a big impediment to the
progress of the state. The ODA loan is expected to contribute to the enhancement of the investment climate and development of the tourism in the state.”
Established as an independent administrative institution, Japan International Cooperation Agency aims to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation as well as the sound development of developing regions.
JICA works to help developing countries become self-reliant in pursuing their own socio-economic development. Its aim is to act as a bridge between Japan and developing countries so that their knowledge and experience can be shared and developing nations can strengthen their own problem solving capabilities.