NEW DELHI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and India today inked a USD 500-million loan agreement to build a 9.8 km long road bridge across the Ganga river to improve transport connectivity between north and south Bihar.

Along with ADB’s loan and USD 900,000 in technical assistance to improve bridge operation and management, the Bihar government will provide support equivalent to USD 215 million and the project is expected to be completed by the end of December 2020, ADB said in a statement.

“The new Ganga Bridge will significantly reduce travel time to Patna from the surrounding regions, in particular north Bihar, which will ease access of people to state’s administrative and social services. The bridge is expected to benefit over 9 million people,” the multilateral agency said.

The new Ganga Bridge, to be located near Patna, will span both channels of the Ganga River and serve as an alternate route to the existing Ganga Bridge, which has begun to deteriorate, the statement said.

The project will also build viaducts, embankments, and toll and service facilities, and will link to national highway networks, it added.

Bihar, the third most populous state in India with over 100 million inhabitants, has poverty levels above the national average, with seven out of 10 of the state’s poorest districts located in the north.

According to the statement, the bridge, using engineering techniques, will be the first of its kind in India.

The agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary in Ministry of Finance on behalf of India and Deputy Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission L B Sondjaja, ADB said in a statement.