K’taka hold talks with World Bank to make state climate, disaster-resilient

PTI, Dec 6, 2022, 9:26 AM IST

A delegation from the World Bank on Monday held discussions with the Karnataka government regarding the ‘Resilient Karnataka Programme’, which is aimed at making the State climate-resilient and also strengthen it to mitigate disaster risks, along with international expertise.

Discussions have also taken place regarding World Bank-supported USD 367-million rural water supply project in Karnataka, and additional USD 150 million for urban water supply project’s second phase in the State, which are at the advanced stages of discussions for approval.

A delegation led by Auguste Kouame, Country Director, World Bank (India), met Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and top officials of the State government and held discussions.

This is Kouame’s first visit to Karnataka after assuming office in August.

“My meeting with the Chief Minister was regarding the Resilient Karnataka Programme- in response to floods, drought and other climate events that have been impacting Karnataka over the past few years. We discussed how to take this forward and as the next step, we will be preparing a broad Resilient Karnataka Programme supported by the World Bank,” Kouame said.

Speaking to PTI, he said it has been agreed that the programme would have strong focus on putting in place a cross-cutting institutional arrangement on disaster risk management across the State.

“It will also have a focus on urban flood management as a second component, specifically in Bengaluru. The third component will be on drought management across the State, and the fourth is coastal risk management and the blue economy, including the plastic waste management in coastal zones,” he added.

In the last one-and-a-half decades, the State had witnessed seven or eight severe droughts, and severe floods, landslides and sea erosion in the last five years, including unprecedented floods in Bengaluru city.

There is also a record of facing severe drought and unprecedented floods in one year, which has caused large-scale damage to public property as well as upsetting the daily life of the people.

The World Bank is already working with Kerala on a project of similar fashion, known as ‘Resilient Kerala Programme’, which is at a fairly early stage, and is also in talks with Maharashtra to work on a similar programme there.

At the city level, it is working on the resilient Chennai, which includes the flood management there.

Stating that at the meeting it was agreed to “work very fast” on the new comprehensive ‘Resilient Karnataka Programme’, Kouame said, “We hope that in the new year, starting in January, we will be working very actively on putting together the new programme.”

Also, discussions have taken place regarding working on a broad vision for a resilient State going forward, which would be more in the form of technical assistance, capacity-building, and bringing in global expertise too, he said.

However, not sharing any numbers on cost or timeframe for the programme and its implementation, Kouame said “This will be a fairly large programme, but I’m unable to discuss any figures or numbers yet, as we don’t yet as to what the size of the programme will be.”

According to official sources, it would take a year to prepare the project report, and the implementation would start thereafter in phases.

The Chief Minister’s office quoting Bommai in a statement said the State is expecting cooperation from the World Bank for the management of floods in Bengaluru City, drought, sea erosion and reducing the danger of natural disaster.

“Among these, priority must be given for the management of Bengaluru floods and sea erosion. The government will extend all cooperation by making an agreement for the implementation of these projects in a phased manner,” he said

During the meeting, discussions also took place on World Bank supported existing programme in Karnataka.

Pointing out at the USD 250 million urban water supply project, which is under implementation in the State, Kouame said, “The project is doing very well. We have prepared a second phase for the project for an additional USD 150 million, which we (WB) approved a year ago, but the project is not signed yet and we have not started implementing the second phase yet.”

Further, there were also talks regarding the preparations for a project on rural water supply, aimed at supporting the implementation of the national rural drinking water programme in Karnataka, he said, “It will be a USD 367-million project for Karnataka. It is not approved yet and is still under preparation.”

Karnataka is a strong beneficiary of World Bank’s national-level projects like dam rehabilitation project, national cyclone project, underground water project and national hydrology project, the senior official highlighted.

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