Restructuring of the $ 216-million loan given by the World Bank (WB) for Phase II of the WB-funded Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) has been expedited to make available $ 45 million for the upgrade of 300 km of road damaged in last year’s floods.
The World Bank has agreed in principle to restructure the loan to make available $ 19 million to the Local Self-Government Department (LSGD), $ 23 million to the Public Works Department and $3 million as technical assistance.
But, the challenge before the State is the preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR), floating of bids for the upgrade of 1,769 km of LSGD roads damaged in the floods, appointing of consultants and awarding of work. Disbursement of funds from the WB in tranches would take place only if the State completed the ground work, official sources told The Hindu. The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has been tasked to prepare the DPR, which is a challenge as the panchayats had awarded the work on these roads earlier based on the estimate.
Inclusion of the resilient design for the roads identified for upgrade and preparation of the DPR for the 1,769 km rural roads, with length varying from 2-5 km, and new terrain are the challenges.
A Project Management Unit (PMU), as in the case of the KSTP, has been set up in the capital as per the demand of the WB. The Project Director of the PMU will take care of the repair of 300 km of rural roads falling in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad.
Environment specialists and other supporting staff have been posted in the PMU. Now, PMUs, under an Executive Engineer, need to be set up in eight more districts.
Another 63 km of roads in Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Wayanad under the Public Works Department will be upgraded using the $ 23-million WB aid. The DPRs for the work in three districts are ready.
The Development Policy Loan (DPL) of $ 250 million being provided by the WB as the first tranche for the Rebuild Kerala initiative will be used for the upgrade of the remaining rural road corridors.