The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) Board of Directors has approved a USD 145-million loan to India to improve irrigation service delivery and strengthen flood risk management in West Bengal. Earlier this month, AIIB President Jin Liqun also approved a USD 65-million 250-megawatt (MW) solar power project in Jodhpur.
West Bengal has 37,660 sq km of flood-prone areas out of a total area of 88,752 sq km. An analysis of the floods over the last 41 years shows that the eastern state has faced severe floods in all but five years. Another concern is the potential threat of climate change, which may have complex implications on water availability and amplify challenges for 70 per cent of the local population dependent on agriculture.
The project, co-financed with the World Bank, is expected to strengthen the management of the Damodar Valley Command Area irrigation scheme to improve service delivery and efficiency. The funds will also be used to modernise irrigation infrastructure at main, branch, distributary and minor canal levels and invest in structural measures to reduce flooding in the project area.
“This investment will help thousands of farmers get adequate water through scientific water conservation and distribution methods,” said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer DJ Pandian. “To support proper irrigation of the affected area, this project will also help build local technical capacity to improve water service delivery and efficient use.”
Meanwhile, as part of ongoing efforts to mobilise private capital for infrastructure, President Jin also approved a USD 65-million 250-MW solar power project in Jodhpur, the second largest city in the north-western Rajasthan state. Hero Future Energies, an independent power producer, is developing the project via its special purpose vehicle Clean Solar Power (Jodhpur). The project will add 250 MW of solar capacity and result in clean energy generation of 616 MWh in 2022.