In a major boost to development in the state, the World Bank has agreed to invest more than one billion dollars (more than Rs7,000 crore) in the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) III and the Climate Resilient Agriculture Project formulated for the drought-affected districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. World Bank’s chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva made the announcement on Tuesday. This is the highest investment by World Bank in any Indian state.
“The World Bank is committed to an investment of more than one billion dollars as direct financing and will help the state get additional funds through multi-lateral financing agencies and the private sector,” said Georgieva, after concluding a meeting with state government officials, including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
She said the amount will be made available as a loan at the Libor Plus interest rate over a period of 18-20 years.
Earlier in the day, the World Bank CEO travelled in a suburban train between Dadar and Churchgate and interacted with women commuters to understand the challenges and opportunities to improve the public transport system.
“I was worried as the doors didn’t shut automatically in suburban trains. The safety of passengers is our biggest concern,” she said.
“Our main aim is to support the project to ensure safe, smooth and comfortable travel,” she said.
The MUTP III involves expanding suburban rail network up to Dahanu by constructing the 3rd and 4th line between Virar-Dahanu (63km) and Airoli-Kalwa (4km), which will provide easier access for suburban commuters between Kalyan-Panvel and doubling of Panvel-Karjat (28km). The MUTP covers Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Navi Mumbai.
The other project that the World Bank will assist is the Climate Resilient Agriculture Project. However, its board is yet to give formal approval to the project.
“We are interested in supporting the project,” Georgieva said adding, “Farmers are the most affected with climate change and this project is aimed at making them less dependent on natural resources.”
The project aims at water conservation for farming and change in farming practices to make them less dependent on natural resources of water and encourage better farm practices. It covers more than 5,000 villages in 14 districts.