March 31, 2010
1. On March 31, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Ogata Sadako, President) and the government of India signed Japanese ODA loan agreements for six projects with a total limit of 215.611 billion yen.
2. India has pursued economic reforms since 1991 and has achieved an economic growth rate of about 5% to 8% since that time; and as a BRIC country, it has held center stage due to this remarkable economic growth. The nation has shown quick recovery from the global economic crisis and its projected growth for FY2009 is about 7%, firmly maintaining a high growth rate. As a major rising economic state, India's strong economic growth is expected to continue. On the other side, approximately 40% of its population is forced to subsist on less than $1.25/day, and the country faces enormous poverty reduction challenges. In these circumstances, the Indian government has promoted “Faster and Inclusive Growth” in its 11th Five-year Plan (April 2007 to March 2012) with the aim of achieving swift growth that would benefit its citizens through an overall expanded economic pie.
3. To help India achieve its economic growth targets, JICA will provide financial assistance characterized by the following measures under the Japanese ODA loans signed this time.
(1) Cooperation related to environment, climate change, and energy issues
This year (2010) has been designated as the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations; and as the host country, Japan will be hosting the Convention on Biological Diversity, “10th Conference of the Parties” (COP10) in October 2010. The following COP11 conference in 2012 may be held in New Delhi, India. The Japan-India commitment to biodiversity conservation has been drawing increasing global interest.
Despite high global biodiversity throughout the world, there are 34 regions (biodiversity hotspots) that are in critical danger of being destroyed . One of these hotspots is located in the eastern Himalayan region of Sikkim State in India. Assistance for biodiversity conservation, including environmental conservation shall be provided by JICA through the Sikkim State Biodiversity Conservation and Forestry Management Project that will assist activities such as baseline survey of the region, regional development and livelihood improvement of the people in Sikkim state, strengthening management skills for protected areas (including strengthening local community organizations), and carrying out a study to facilitate the designation of the Kanchenjunga National Park as a World Heritage site.
(2) Promoting economic growth by strengthening Japan-India economic relations
As a result of rapid economic development, India's freight volume continues to grow at about 15% per annum. The transport capacity of existing railway system has almost reached its limit; and improving and strengthening the railway system has become an urgent necessity. In order to address the issue, dedicated freight corridors along the western and eastern parts of the county are being planned. Assistance will be provided to construct dedicated freight lines in the prioritized section between Rewari and Vadodara (950km) of western corridor between Delhi and Mumbai (1,500km) in the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project (Phase-1) (II). Electric locomotives with enlarge carrying capacity at higher speeds operating in an environment friendly manner in contrast to road transport, will be introduced.
Under the high profile Japan-Indian government initiative, this project will become the foundation of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Conceptual Outline, an integrated industry development project to build the country's largest industrial area between Delhi and Mumbai, aimed at promoting direct investments by Indian and Japanese companies. With this project concretely moving forward, it is expected to trigger the first step to realizing the various projects currently in the planning and conceptual stages.
Additionally, the urban metros have garnered interest as an environmental friendly mode of public transport system in recent years. In the three metropolitan cities of Delhi, the capital, Kolkata, the political and economic center in eastern India, and Chennai, the political and economic center in southern India, rapid population and vehicular growth have resulted in deteriorating traffic situation in these cities. Measures to build a high-speed, environment friendly mass transport system need to be pursued. The Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project Phase 2 (V), Kolkata East-West Metro Project (II), and the Chennai Metro Project (II) would help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce exhaust fumes, especially acute air pollution and global-warming emissions in these major global cities.
With the introduction of an electric regenerative braking system, the Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project Phase 2 (V) is registered as the world's first clean development mechanism (CDM) in railway sector .
(3) Poverty reduction and social sector development
Drought in India last year recorded deficit of rainfall by 20% less than normal, which resulted in crop failures, skyrocketing food prices, and a drop in farmer income. In Orissa State, located in eastern India, about 40% of its population lives below the poverty line. Agriculture comprises about 30% of production in the state and about 70% of its working population is engaged in farming and activities related to agriculture. However, about only 30% of cultivable area has been irrigated so far, and much of its agriculture is dependent on rain-fed farming. To achieve stable production volume and improve the living standard of farmers, it is vital to develop the agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities that will enable cultivation during the dry season. The Rengali Irrigation Project (III) will contribute to the improvement of the living standard of farmers by expanding arable land, increasing and diversifying agricultural production, and promoting the efficient use of water resources through improvements in agricultural infrastructure.
4. Current Japanese ODA loans that assist development projects have implemented a variety of intellectual cooperation aimed at raising the effectiveness and sustainability of the projects. There are plans to continue with them. The major projects are summarized below.
(1) The Sikkim State Biodiversity Conservation and Forestry Management Project is supported by Japanese academic experts to examine the possibility of applying the rigorous impact evaluation methodology on forestry projects, which is the first attempt for the Japanese ODA forestry projects. In addition, technical cooperation is under consideration to help formulate Sikkim state's ecotourism policy that will serve as the foundation for economic development without compromising environmental conservation.
(2) In the Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project Phase 2, the training seminars based on Tokyo's subway system has been conducted to better assimilate Tokyo subway operations and experiences in the crisis management. Similarly, the Japanese expert has been also dispatched from the Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. to help Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in improving safe driving, operations, and maintenance of subway trains.
(3) To control the risk of HIV/AIDS infection among migrant workers employed in all subway construction works, the advocacy and awareness-raising programs, etc. in HIV/AIDS prevention activities have been implemented. In addition, the universal design of the passenger cars and stations has been introduced with consideration for the needs of the elderly and disabled passengers. There are plans to impart special training to the station personnel to assist these passengers for the better metro use.