By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 26: The Centre today signed a loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) for $300 million for improving regiol road connectivity and increasing the domestic and regiol trade along the North Bengal-North Eastern Region (NER). The loan is the first tranche under $500 million multi-tranche South Asian Sub-regiol Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Investment Program. Under this program, about 500 km of roads will be constructed. Tarun Bajaj, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Fince signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government of India while Ms. Teresa Kho, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission signed the Loan Agreement on behalf of ADB. Speaking on the occasion, Bajaj said that the project will improve road connectivity and efficiency of the intertiol trade corridors by expanding roads in North Bengal and North-Eastern region of the country. The investment on the 'last mile' connectivity will contribute to achieve the objective of regiolly balanced and inclusive growth of remote and economically lagging regions, he added. Ms. Teresa Kho said that the improvements in road connectivity will eble efficient and safe transport within India and regiolly with other South Asia Subregiol Economic Cooperation (SASEC) member countries. The tranche 1 project will construct two tiol highways totaling about 150 km in West Bengal and State roads totaling about 180 km in Manipur, extending to Myanmar. The project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2021. ADB's loan of $300 million makes-up nearly 71% of the total project cost of about $425 million, with the central and state governments providing counterpart fince of about $125 million. The loan has a 25-year repayment term, including a five-year grace period with an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB's LIBOR-based lending facility.