New Delhi: All-weather roads in the villages of the country has doubled the income of rural households, raised literacy rate by 10 percent, and appreciated land prices by up to 80 percent, says the World Bank.
"In 2000, about 40 percent of India’s 825,000 villages lacked all-weather roads ... With access to roads, incomes have soared. Household incomes rose by 50 to 100 percent on average," the bank that come out with the results of its Rural Roads Project that started in 2004 said recently.
The multi-lateral lending agency has been supporting India`s rural connectivity programme Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). It aids projects in several places like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
"Literacy has increased by 10 percent... land prices by some 60 to 80 percent on average," it said.
Over the years, World Bank`s concessionary lending arm International Development Association (IDA), has supported many rural roads projects, both as stand-alone and as components of larger projects.
The year-round connectivity has narrowed gender gap with access to education for girls and raised job opportunities, IDA said adding every Rs 10 lakh spent on rural roads has helped lift 163 people out of poverty.
"The gender gap has narrowed with easier access to school for girls. There was better availability of school teachers.... Access to jobs improved, and new businesses started up, diversifying the rural economy," IDA said.
"For every 1 million rupees spent on rural roads, 163 people were lifted out of poverty," it said as finding of its Rural Roads Project, which is slated to close by March, 2010.
"Farmers received better prices for their products by accessing markets directly and cutting out middlemen, and spoilage of perishable produce reduced. Agricultural and animal husbandry practices were modernised," IDA said.
The World Bank has said "a second project of USD 1 billion is under preparation". It would aim to improve maintenance, weak capacity, governance and accountability, and would introduce several efficiency measures.
Meanwhile, for two-laning of 6,372-km of the total of 19,702 km single lane highways in the country, the Finance Ministry has requested the World Bank for a loan of USD 3 billion.