The World Bank, Government of India and Government of Uttarakhand signed a $96 million agreement to provide additionalfunds to the state in its post disaster recovery plans, ongoing since the floods of 2013, as well as strengthen its capacity for disaster risk management.
The World Bank, through the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project, has been supporting the state government since 2014 to restore housing and rural connectivity, and to build resilience of communities. So far, the project has completed more than 2,000 permanent houses and 23 public buildings and restored over 1,300 kilometers of roads and 16 bridges.
The additional financing of $96 million will further help in the reconstruction of bridges, road and river bank protection works, and in the construction of a training facility for the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). The project will also help to increase the technical capacity of the state entities to respond promptly and more effectively to such crises in the future.
“India is vulnerable, in varying degrees, to many natural as well as man-made disasters. The Government of India is committed to develop a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster-oriented strategy, using technology effectively to build a safe and disaster resilient India,” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “The Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project has been delivering on these objectives and the additional finance will help expand its impact,” he added.
The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Khare on behalf of the Government of India; Uttarakhand secretary of Finance and Disaster Management, Amit Singh Negi on behalf of the State Government and Hisham Abdo, the acting country director of World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank
“Natural disasters cost the country an average of $9.8 billion annually. The Government of India has made great strides in moving from reactive emergency response to proactively implement disaster preparedness and risk reduction initiatives. We are committed to supporting Uttarakhand in its efforts towards a resilient recovery and rehabilitation,” said Abdo.
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in Uttarakhand. The disaster hit more than 4,200 villages, damaged 2,500 houses, and killed 4,000 people.
The disaster recovery project has helped in strengthening the state’s disaster risk management capacity which has led to enhanced investment in long-term resilience through policies and institutions. The capacity of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) meant to be at the forefront during emergency situations of the state, has also been significantly strengthened and it has so far conducted over 250 operations rescuing over 3,500 people, during the high pilgrimage season. The extent and pace of recovery since 2013 has been significant, however, connectivity remains a challenge. Landslides and river bank erosion are common and continue to disrupt movement and cause accidents, affecting the livelihood and access to services of the local community.
The $96 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a five-year grace period, and a final maturity of 15 years.