New Delhi, Jan 4 (Agency) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Tuesday signed a $300 million loan to upgrade over 300 kilometres of state highways and major district roads (MDRs) in Assam. The signatories to the Assam South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Corridor Connectivity Improvement Project were Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance who signed for the Government of India, and Nilaya Mitash, Officer-in-Charge of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB, an official statement said.After signing the loan agreement, Mishra said the project supports the Government of Assam’s flagship Asom Mala road improvement program to enhance the quality and service of priority sections of state highway and MDR networks and fill critical infrastructure gaps. “Improved connectivity and safe road networks developed through the project will enhance mobility and accessibility of people in the less developed areas of the state to markets and services to spur growth and contribute to its potential as a growth catalyst for the SASEC region,” Mitash said.
The roads to be upgraded under the project, including six road sections in the state’s western, central and southern regions, are connected to SASEC corridors linking India with Bhutan and Bangladesh, and are expected to boost cross-border trade and transport. The project will complement the multimodal logistics park being built in Jogighopa and a another proposed in Silchar to serve road, rail, inland waterway, and air transport facilities, the statement said. The project will expand state highways and major district roads from single lane to two lanes and introduce new climate- and disaster-resilient structures. It will establish pedestrian and public transport facilities, elevate highways in flood-prone areas, and include landslide prevention structures in hilly and mountainous areas.
Community schools, water, health, and sanitation facilities, and heritage and tourism sites will be restored in affected indigenous peoples’ villages. To protect wildlife and habitats in project areas, viaduct structures will be constructed to avoid human–elephant conflict in the elephant habitats.In addition, community road users, drivers, motorcycle riders, schoolteachers, and students will be informed and trained on road safety. The project will strengthen the capacity of the Assam Public Works (Roads) Department in managing road assets, integrating climate and disaster resilience in road projects, and ensuring safeguards—such as environment, resettlement, and indigenous peoples concerns—are considered, the statement said.