03:29 GMT06 March 2021
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    Gujarat, the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will receive $329 million from the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to build access roads to approximately 4,000 villages in all 33 districts of the state.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — This is the AIIB's stand-alone project and is part of the phase one of the multiphase projects of the Gujarat government. The bank has also developed a unique software tool for monitoring the rural roads project. If successful, this project monitoring tool will also be used in future AIIB projects.

    "Insufficient road connectivity into these villages limits their ability to access healthcare services, bring their goods to market and access transportation for their children to attend school. This project will construct and upgrade district and farm-to-market roads for the villagers and provide approaches to educational institutions, schools, and hospitals," AIIB said in a statement on Wednesday.

    In the last one fortnight, this is the third major announcement from AIIB. On June 22, the AIIB signed a $160 million contract with India to partly fund "24X7 Power for All in Andhra Pradesh Project" while on June 16, it had announced its first equity investment of $150 million to attract much needed private investment capital for infrastructure projects in India.

    The Indian government lacks money to improve infrastructure in the country and it remains a key constraint to growth. An estimated 300,000 habitations out of the 825,000 habitations in India are without all-weather road access.

    "This project will directly contribute to the economic development of Gujarat, and India, by improving the mobility of the rural population," D.J. Pandian, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, AIIB, said.

    The Beijing-based $100 billion AIIB began operations last year and expects to provide a loan to infrastructure projects worth $6-7 billion in the next five years. China is the largest shareholder in the bank, followed by India and Russia. Till now, AIIB has approved 16 projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and Myanmar worth $2.5 billion.


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