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World Bank unveils $1.72 bn loans to India

NEW DELHI, Jan 14, 2011 – The World Bank on Friday announced $1.72 billion in loans to India, including $1.5 billion to build 24,000 kilometres (14,880 miles) of roads across seven states of the country.

The global lending agency also provided $255 million to the first phase of an Indian project to mitigate effects of cyclones, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said after the signing of the two separate agreements.

The bank said in a statement that the roads aid was likely to benefit more than six million people in India.

"It is the largest roads project to be approved by the World Bank," Zoellick told reporters, urging India to make use of development aid "quickly" to maintain the speed of its economic growth.

"In my discussions with the finance minister we agreed that the bank\’s funding and technical resources are also to be quickly used to help build infrastructure, overcome bottlenecks that are needed to sustain high growth," he told reporters.

Earlier Friday, Zoellick held talks with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

Zoellick called for a closer partnership between the World Bank and India, where the economy grew a forecast-breaking 8.9 percent year-on-year in the July-September 2010 quarter.

New Delhi has forecast that economic growth in the fiscal year to March 31 could cross the 9 percent mark.

"India has shown the world its ability to recover from the global crisis, and we stand ready to be a partner," Zoellick said.

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