World Bank approves $120 mn Meghalaya transport project

World Bank approves $120 million project to improve Meghalaya's transport system

The project would help revive activities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in the state and support the government's Restart Meghalaya Mission

Road in Meghalaya. Credit: DH File Photo

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $120-million project to improve and modernise the transport sector of Meghalaya with climate-resilient and nature-based solutions.

World Bank on Monday said the project was approved on Friday and it would improve 300 kilometres of roads and help the hilly scenic state to harness its growth potential for high-value agriculture and tourism.

Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate-resilient, and nature-based solutions. "The segments will serve major agriculture areas, important tourist destinations, small-scale industries, major towns and underserved populations by linking them to markets, health and education centres, and national and international corridors. It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction," said World Bank in a statement emailed to DH.

Today, about half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity. Difficult hilly terrain, and extreme climatic conditions, including frequent rains, make Meghalaya’s transport challenges particularly complex. 

“This project will tap into Meghalaya’s growth potential in two ways. Within the state, it will provide the much-needed transport connectivity for underserved communities, farmers, and firms. It will also position Meghalaya as a major connecting hub for international trade through the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Corridor,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

This operation will also support the state’s government “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to Covid-19 pandemic. It will help restore transport services for the movement of agricultural produce, improve access to health facilities during Covid-19 type medical emergencies, benefit about 500,000 inhabitants, and generate direct employment of about 8 million person-days.

“Meghalaya is blessed with diverse agroclimatic zones, unique waterfalls, and root bridges with enormous potential for high-value tourism, agriculture and horticulture. By bringing in climate resilient innovations, this project will offer the people of the state a reliable transport network that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Ashok Kumar, Senior Highway Engineer and Reenu Aneja, Transport Specialist, Task Team Leaders for the project.