In order to bring about a more inclusive growth in Orissa through improved transport and irrigation facilities, the World Bank has earmarked $444 million (around Rs 2,200 crore) assistance package for the state.
The package comprises three projects that will aim to improve the state’s road network (with an allocation of $250 million or Rs 1,225 crore), its agricultural tank systems ($112 or Rs 548 crore) and increase livelihood opportunities for its rural poor ($ 82.4 million or Rs 404 crore).
“The emphasis is not only to build on what has been achieved so far, but also target inclusion of the poorest of the poor,” said Roberto Zagha, World Bank country director for India, in a statement.
“These projects will bring in lessons learned from roads, tanks and livelihood projects across India and help Orissa provide its poor better access to finance, improve the efficiency of the transport systems and increase the availability of water for its farmers,” he added.
Despite doing well on economic front, especially in the mining, agriculture and services sectors, Orissa remains one of India’s poorest states with nearly half of its 38 million people living under the official poverty line, most of them in rural areas.
Under the $250 million Orissa state road project, efforts would be made to remove bottlenecks in transport corridors. The project will also increase the role of private sector in road infrastructure, and assist the state government in establishing an institutional framework in the sector.
Only 22 per cent of the state’s roads are paved, even as most village and district roads remain unconnected to the national highway system. “An efficient road transport system is critical for improving the state’s investment climate and promoting a private-sector-led economic growth,” said Binyam Reja, World Bank senior transport economist and task leader for this project.
The Orissa community tanks management project, which is worth $112 million will rehabilitate about 900 tanks covering a cultivable area of about 120,000 hectares spread across 29 districts of the state. This is expected to increase productivity in agriculture, livestock and fisheries, and promote more effective and sustainable management of tank systems.
The project will support improvements in production technologies and management practices, and better market linkages. It will also strengthen community-based institutions, enabling them to assume greater responsibility for tank management.
The Orissa rural livelihoods project aims to empower the rural poor, especially women and disadvantaged groups, through their inclusion in self-help groups (SHGs). These groups are the primary mechanism for channeling microfinance to the poor in the state. The project will also support creating new SHGs and strengthening existing groups.