The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $500 million loan to construct new metro rail lines in Bengaluru, Karnataka, and another $300 million to strengthen primary health care in urban areas across the country.
“This will enhance the economy, improve the urban environment and make the city more livable. The project supports urban transformation of Bengaluru city through a multidimensional approach of urban public transport and urban development,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist for South Asia Kaoru Kasahara.
“The new metro lines will ease daily travel of commuters and decongest traffic across the city, contributing to overall productivity,” he said in a statement. “The project will provide efficient, punctual and safe transportation in the city and promote a clean urban environment.”
The project will construct two new metro lines, mostly elevated, with a total length of 56 km along Outer Ring Road and National Highway 44 between Central Silk Board and Kempegowda International Airport.
It will also establish 30 metro stations, which will include multimodal facilities such as bus bays, taxi stand, motorcycle pools and pedestrian walkways and bridges. The needs of vulnerable groups like the elderly, women, children and differently-abled persons will be integrated in the design of the facilities.
An additional $2 million technical assistance grant from ADB will help the state government formulate urban development plans and their implementing frameworks, focusing on transit-oriented development and multimodal integration.
This will also strengthen the capacity of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd and other state agencies to implement transit-oriented development and multi-modal integration.
The ADB said onset of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put pressure and revealed weaknesses in India’s health care system. In response, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ASBY) to strengthen public health systems and respond to future pandemics and other emergencies.
The ADB’s Strengthening Comprehensive Primary Health Care in Urban Areas Programme will support the Ayushman Bharat (the Healthy India Initiative) Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) and PM-ASBY to ensure equitable access to quality comprehensive primary health care services in urban areas in 13 states.
The programme will benefit an estimated 256 million urban residents, including 51 million from the slum areas of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal.
“India has made impressive gains in ensuring access to and quality of health services for all. However, COVID-19 has shown us that challenges remain and we need to do more and address these issues,” said ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist for South Asia Gi Soon Song.
“This programme aims to meet not only the medical needs of urban population but also the physical and mental health and well-being of target beneficiaries.”
The programme will strengthen the institutional capacity, operation and management of urban health and wellness centres at the central, state and municipal levels. It aims to address the ongoing COVID-19 challenges while ensuring continuous provision of non-COVID-19 health services.
It will conduct awareness and education campaigns on health and nutrition, including preventive measures and strategies. Delivery and health information systems for primary health care will be upgraded through digital tools, quality assurance mechanisms and engagement and partnership with the private sector.
In addition to the loan, a $2 million technical assistance grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will provide technical support for programme implementation and coordination, capacity building, innovation and application of new knowledge to the health care system.
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