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WB chief in Mumbai for stocktaking

The agency’s new president will meet Vilasrao Deshmukh, RBI Governor and several corporate honchos to take stock of the Mumbai projects the bank has funded, reports Madhurima Nandy.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2007 01:33 IST
Madhurima Nandy

The fate of Mumbai’s transformation, from the ragged, overburdened city of today to the efficient global metropolis it aspires to become, is likely to hinge on the outcome of several meetings on Thursday as the World Bank’s new chief comes to town.

The World Bank, set up in 1944, is one of the world’s largest sources of funding to governments of 184 countries. India receives more loan from the World Bank than any other country: between July 2006 and June 2007, the World Bank lent India $3.7 billion (Rs 1,46,150 crore).

The agency’s new president, Robert B Zoellick, who took over from Paul Wolfowitz in July, will meet Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Reserve Bank of India Governor YV Reddy and several corporate honchos and bureaucrats to take stock of the Mumbai projects the bank has funded, and to understand where it can help some more.

The World Bank has committed to lending

Rs 850 crore for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, which includes building east-west connecting roads like the Santacruz-Chembur Link road and the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, one of the largest rehabilitation projects in the city.

Wolfowitz had said the World Bank is interested in funding up to Rs 25,000 crore for infrastructure projects in the greater Mumbai region, which includes suburbs like Vasai and Virar, the development of which are vital for the reinvention and flourishing of a gasping city. Senior Bank officials said this could be discussed if the state government brings it up with Zoellick.

“This is an exploratory visit by the bank president in which we will inform him of the Mumbai situation on various aspects like transport, power, health and education. He will meet decision makers and get a feel of the situation here,” said Milind Mhaiskar, joint metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority.

Mumbai’s makeover is also critical for the image of India as the dizzying rate of the country’s economic growth is rivalled only by China’s and India, along with China, looks to alter the geopolitical map of the world by the middle of this century.

“India is one of our biggest clients and the president’s first visit is to understand what kind of support India wants from the World Bank and how we can help. He also wants to learn how India addresses its development challenges and share it with other developing nations,” said a New Delhi-based World Bank spokesperson.

Zoellick next heads for Delhi to meet, among others, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.