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THE PLANNING Commission has given a go-ahead to a proposed $5-bn World Bank loan for India’s urban sector. The Bank is now preparing a detailed concept note indicating what should be the main components of the loan, an urban development ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

   Though the Bank had originally proposed to provide $3.8 bn loan for the urban sector, the ministry of urban development requested the Bank to increase the amount to at least $5 bn, or about Rs 25,000 crore.

   It has not yet been decided as to which cities will benefit from the Bank’s loan, but it’s believed that many of the 63 Mission cities under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) will get a share of the cake. The government has also decided to add 28 more cities to the list.

With the Plan panel giving its nod, and the finance ministry on board, the loan could be disbursed in 12-18 months, said the official.

   When contacted, urban development secretary M Ramachandran confirmed that the Planning Commission had already given its nod. “Once the World Bank comes out with a detailed note, we will give our inputs on how best the loan could be utilised. We may go for a model in which there could be one major project in each city for which funding will come from the World Bank loan,” he said. Mr Ramachandran further added that the cities availing the loan amount may be asked to follow a set of reform measures as it is done in case of cities taking grants from JNNURM funds.

   It had been first reported on May 24, 2009, that the World Bank would disburse a big ticket loan for India’s urban sector. It also reported that urban development secretary M Ramachandran was in Washington to negotiate with the Bank’s top brass on May 12, 2009 to increase the amount to over $5 bn.

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