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Tuesday, Dec 27, 2005
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Kozhikode: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved last week more than $ 970 million (Rs. 4,365 crores, approximately) in assistance for India, comprising $ 750 million (nearly Rs. 3,375 crores) for the country's rural roads programme and $ 221.2 million (about Rs. 1,000 crores) to upgrade urban infrastructure in Kerala, according to a press release to The Hindu here from its media centre in Manila in the Philippines on Saturday. The release said the loan for the State had been aimed at helping improve living conditions, through upgrading and expanding urban infrastructure, in Kochi, Kollam, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur cities, with a combined population of 2.5 million. The population was projected to rise to about 3.6 million by project completion in 2011 and 6.2 million by 2021. Although Kerala had performed considerably better than most States in terms of social development, lingering urban poverty remained a threat to its future growth. "Kerala's urban infrastructure is not keeping pace with the rate of urbanisation. The loan will improve the State's prospects for economic development," said Hun Kim, Director of ADB's Social Sectors Division in its South Asia Department, said in the release. Kerala had the third highest population density (819 people per sq.km) in the country, and its urban settlements and slums were overcrowded. The population of slums increased to 1.7 million in 2001, from about 1.2 million in 1991. Urban unemployment stood at over 10 per cent, one of the highest in the country. At present, Kerala suffered inadequate services provision in urban areas owing to poor condition of infrastructure and facilities, the release said.
Water availability was uneven, ranging from only two to three hours a day in Kochi, Kollam, and Thrissur, and eight to 10 hours in Thiruvananthapuram. Drainage was poorly maintained and plagued by heavy silting and clogging. Solid-waste management planning had not been systematic because of an absence of clear institutional responsibilities, lack of skilled staff and equipment, and funding constraints. The road network was congested because of poor traffic engineering and management.
The objective of the loan was to address the problems faced by the corporations. The project would help improve urban infrastructure and services.
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