WB aid to flood-hit Kosi area

Bank okays Rs 1,000 cr

The bank will also dole out Rs 3,500 crore to Bihar in the next couple of years.
“The fiscal assistance is in the form of soft loan, repayable in the next 35 years,” said World Bank President Robert B Zoellick, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Nitish regime on Wednesday.

The loan amount will be spent on house reconstruction, rebuilding of roads and bridges, strengthening flood management capacity, livelihood restoration and enhancement, improving emergency response capacity and project management in the Kosi region.

 “Around one lakh houses, 90 bridges and 290 kilometres of rural roads will be rebuilt using the loan amount,” the World Bank chief said. The Kosi region was devastated after a breach in the embankment at Kusaha in August 2008, which led to the inundation of hundreds of villages thereby affecting around 25 lakh people.

“Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after visiting the flood-hit areas had called it a ‘national disaster’, we never got the Central aid of Rs 14,000 crore which we had sought,” said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after the World Bank inked the deal to dole out the relief fund.

The World Bank will charge 1.25 per cent as a rate of interest on the loan from 2021 to 2030. From 2031 onwards, the interest rate will be enhanced to 2.5 per cent. The loan repayment will begin in 2021 and over by 2045.

Zoellick, who arrived in Patna on Tuesday night along with a team of 14 senior officials in two chartered planes, was to have visited Bodh Gaya on Wednesday morning, but had to cancel his trip due to inclement weather.

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