Our Bureau

Hyderabad, July 15

THE World Bank has agreed `in principle' to fund the Andhra Pradesh Urban Reforms and Municipal Services Project (APURMSP), the Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, announced here.

Of the Rs 1,320-crore project cost, the Bank would fund Rs 1,015 crore while the balance Rs 305 crore would be the State Government's share. A part of this money would be raised by municipalities. To avoid delay, the Bank had permitted the State Government to spend Rs 200 crore immediately and offered to reimburse the same once the bills were submitted, the Chief Minister said.

Reviewing the project details at a meeting, Dr Reddy told officials that the programmes under the APURMSP should be worked out in such a manner that not a single home was untouched by the developmental activities.

The World Bank board of directors would soon formally clear the project, to be implemented over a period of five years. Municipalities in the State were also expected to get much-needed funds to implement their programmes.

A World Bank team had recently firmed up the project at a meeting with senior officials of the Andhra Pradesh Government. The WB-aided project would be in addition to the Rs 600 crore already earmarked by the State Government in the annual budget for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for water supply schemes, slum development etc., he said.

The State Government would sanction to the urban local bodies, in the form of a grant, 50 per cent of the project cost for activities taken up in slum/low-income settlements and solid waste management projects. Allaying apprehensions, the Chief Minister said there were no strings or conditions attached to the loan. All that the State Government had to do was to comply with the reform agenda put forth by the Government of India under the Urban Reform Incentive Fund and National Urban Renewal Mission. The guidelines were applicable to all State Governments to access any form of central assistance, he added.

For instance, one of the conditions is ensuring 75 per cent collection of property taxes whereas the average performance in respect of ULBs in AP has been around 80 per cent. The other is putting in place a Citizen's Charter, an initiative being implemented by most municipalities in the State.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 16, 2005)
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