The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $150 million loan to finance continued improvements to road connectivity and efficiency of the international trade corridor in the northern part of West Bengal and northeastern region of India.
South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation Road Connectivity investment Program, approved in 2014, aims to expand about 500 kilometers of roads in India’s North Bengal and North-Eastern Region that will enable efficient and safe transport within India and regionally with other SASEC member countries.
The Program is an important initiative in Regional Connectivity aimed at increasing domestic and regional trade through North Bengal-North East Region International Trade corridor by upgrading key roads.
The Project will upgrade about 65 kilometers of Imphal-Moreh Section of National Highway in Manipur, construction of about 1.5 km of an international bridge between India and Nepal, and completion of about 103 km of a State Highway in Manipur between Imphal and Tamenglong under Project-I.
The Project will reduce transaction costs along the targeted cross-border corridors substantially, creating economies of scale and commercial prosperity.
Manipur is a landlocked state with almost 90% of the area under difficult terrain presently has only road transport as a means of mass transport system within the state. Hence the development of the road infrastructure is of paramount importance to improve connectivity and progress of the State and to ensure that the administrative set up reaches the isolated and remote habitats.
The SASEC programme of ADB was formed in 2001 in response to the request of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal to assist in facilitating economic cooperation among them. Sri Lanka and the Maldives joined the sub-regional group in 2014.
As a project-based partnership, SASEC programme has been helping enhance cross-border connectivity, facilitate faster and more efficient trade and promote cross-border power trade.
The Manila, Philippines-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) serves as the Secretariat for the SASEC member countries.