New Delhi: India and the Manila- based Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed a $250 million loan to finance the construction of 6,254 km of all-weather rural roads in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal under the flagship Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Programme (PMGSY), a government statement said.

“The First Tranche Loan is part of the $500 million Second Rural Connectivity Investment Program for India approved by the ADB Board in December 2017," the statement said.

“The program is aimed at improving rural connectivity, facilitating safer and more efficient access to livelihood and socio-economic opportunities for rural communities through improvements to about 12,000 kilometres Rural Roads across the 5 States," it said.

The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs in the government’s Ministry of Finance and Kenichi Yokoyama, country director of the ADB office in New Delhi.

Khare said that the ADB-funded investment program will support the Government’s long-term goal for rural development, the statement said.

He added that the rural roads programme would have a transformative impact on the rural economy and would bring in greater efficiency in terms of access and connectivity for rural populations in the five states. Under the project, about 2,000 technical personnel would also be trained on road safety and maintenance, Khare said.

PMGSY was launched in 2000 by the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with the objective of providing all-weather road connectivity to unconnected rural habitations. It is being seen by the present NDA government as a key tool to spur domestic economic growth, given that global economy recovery remains weak.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced an allocation of Rs19,000 crore for the programme in the 2017-18 budget—the same as in 2016-17.

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