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World Bank approves $250 mn loan to rebuild flood-ravaged J&K

World Bank approves $250 mn loan to rebuild flood-ravaged J&K

The project will be funded by credit from World Bank's concessionary --International Development Association (IDA).

The recovery project will focus on 20 districts.(Reuters) The recovery project will focus on 20 districts.(Reuters)

Multi-lateral lender World Bank on Wednesday approved $250 million loan for Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project for reconstruction of flood-affected public infrastructure in Jammu & Kashmir.

It will also strengthen the capacity of state government to respond and better manage natural disasters in future, World Bank said in a release.

The project will be funded by credit from World Bank's concessionary --International Development Association (IDA).

The loan has a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.

A continuous spell of rains in September 2014 had caused Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi rivers, their tributaries and many other streams to flow above the danger mark which had severely affected livelihoods in the state.

Due to the unprecedented heavy rainfall, the catchment areas, particularly low lying ones, were flooded for more than two weeks, while Jhelum breached its banks at several places.

The continuous spell of rains in September last year, caused Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi rivers including their tributaries and many other streams to flow above the danger mark. Due to the unprecedented heavy rainfall, the catchment areas, particularly the low lying areas were flooded for more than two weeks. The Jhelum River breached its banks at several places. Over a million families were affected, directly or indirectly, and some 300 lives lost.  More than 648,000 hectares of agricultural and horticultural land were affected causing huge loss to crops, plantations and animals.

"This region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters that can push millions into poverty. In addition to reconstruction, which includes reconstruction of roads, bridges and public infrastructure, the project will also help the region be better prepared for the future," said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India, in the statement.

"The challenge is to build smarter, so that they do not undermine the fragile eco-system. It will incorporate lessons from previous national and global post-disaster recovery projects to ensure that recovery is targeted, effective and more resilient to future disasters," he added.

The recovery project will focus on 20 districts -- Anantnag, Baramula, Budgam, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Srinagar, Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch, Rajauri and Udhampur.

It will help rebuild damaged public buildings - hospitals, schools, higher education buildings, fire stations, and selected block and district offices.

"It will restore and improve connectivity disrupted by reconstruction of damaged roads and bridges. The infrastructure will be re-designed to withstand earthquake and floods as per the latest official design guidelines," it said.

Investments will primarily include rehabilitation/renovation of storm water pumping stations in several areas.

Apart from reconstruction, the Project will focus on disaster risk mitigation. It will strengthen the capacity of government entities in managing disaster risks, enhancing preparedness, and achieving resilient recovery through the preparation of a Hydro-Meteorological Resilience Action Plan with a focus on extreme weather events; River Morphology study for some key rivers impacted by the disaster; and an urban vulnerability assessment among others.

"While reconstruction is a key component, a strong disaster response mechanism plays a crucial role in not only saving lives and livelihoods, but also for achieving sustainable recovery and long-term disaster risk reduction. The Project will, therefore, focus on providing technical assistance in localized and sustainable risk mitigation and response mechanisms," said Saurabh Dani, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist and the Task Team Leader for the Project.

Over the years, the World Bank has significantly increased its support to India for its disaster risk management work. Currently, five projects are under implementation: National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project I, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction Project, Bihar Kosi Flood Recovery Project, Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project, and the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project. In addition to reconstruction, these projects are helping improve the disaster risk management capacity both at the state and national levels, including disaster-resilient infrastructure, analytical work, equipment, training, and in particular establishing systems for better risk management through improved forecasting, early warning systems, and multi-hazard risk assessments for planning, and decision support systems.

(with inputs from PTI)