India, ADB sign pact for $120-m loan to tackle flood in Assam

Our Bureau | Updated on May 10, 2011 Published on May 10, 2011

India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed a loan agreement to help tackle the floods and erosion problem in Assam. The agreement related to the first tranche loan of $56.9 million under the $120-million Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme.

This programme will help mitigate the disruption to life and livelihoods and the huge economic losses that are caused by periodic floods in the Brahmaputra River.

The signatories for the first tranche were Mr Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs in Finance Ministry on behalf of the Indian Government, Mr Hun Kim, ADB Country Director for India, and Mr R S. Prasad, Chief Executive Officer, Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Agency and Commissioner and Secretary, Finance Department, Government of Assam.

The multi-tranche financing facility of $120 million for the investment programme was approved in October, 2010 to enhance the reliability of flood and river erosion protection infrastructure and management systems in key urban, suburban, and rural areas along the Brahmaputra River in Dibrugarh, Kamrup (near Guwahati), and Golaghat (upstream of Kaziranga National Park) districts.

The first tranche loan will focus on the most vulnerable reaches and upgrade existing embankments, provide riverbank protection works where required, and help collect critical data and information. Work under the first loan is expected to be completed by September, 2014. In addressing flood and river erosion problems, the program will introduce a range of innovations, including the application of the latest cost-effective and sustainable technologies of bank protection with geo-textile fabrics, proactive risk mitigation through erosion prediction modelling using remote sensing, and community participation through local disaster management committees, among others.

After the signing ceremony, Mr Rajamony, Joint Secretary, said that effective management of flood and erosion problems is critical for Assam where the majority of urban and agricultural land is flood prone. He said that the ADB program will therefore contribute to inducing critical private investments in urban, industrial, and agriculture sectors, while protecting essential public and private assets and livelihoods of the population.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Hun Kim, ADB's Country Director for India, said that this innovative water sector loan will put into operation comprehensive structural and non-structural measures for flood risk management following international best practices and introducing latest technologies. He expressed hope that its successful implementation will provide a model that can be replicated in other flood prone states in India.

Meanwhile, India and the ADB also signed a $69-million loan agreement which is the sixth and final tranche of the $620 million Madhya Pradesh Power sector investment programme. This multi-tranche financing facility was approved by ADB on March 29, 2007.

> krsrivats@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 10, 2011
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