Thiruvananthapuram: The Federal Republic of Germany has come up with a massive aid package to support climate resilient rebuilding of Kerala’s flood-shattered  public infrastructure, which includes a nominal interest loan of Rs 720 crore (90 million Euro).

The package, announced at a press meet here by German Ambassador to India HE Dr Martin Ney, also has a technical grant 3 million Euro (Rs 24 crore), which will be for  providing international expertise to the state Public Works Department in   climate resilient infrastructure planning to reconstruct roads and bridges.

In addition to this, Germany has proposed to finance a 117 million Euro (Rs 940 crore) provide Kochi with an integrated water transport system called “Water Metro”, within Indo-German Economic Co-operation.

The heavy monsoon this year brought widespread floods to several districts of Kerala and triggered thousands of small to big landslides destroying homes, bridges and roads. The costs for reconstructing the destroyed infrastructure has been estimated to amount to Rs. 25,000 crores (3.5 billion USD).

“Germany is ready to support Kerala during these challenging times and is pleased to contribute to the Rebuild resilient Kerala Initiative. Our common goal will be to “build back better” and to help restore people’s livelihood as soon as possible,” Dr Ney said. The support will be implemented through the German Development Bank KfW.

“According to my information, Germany is the only partner country to come out with bilateral aid (for Kerala’s rebuilding) so fast, and of such scale”, Dr Ney said.

“The aim is not just to reconstruct, but to reconstruct in a much better way so that the roads and bridges in Kerala would be able to withstand the future  disasters”, the Ambassador said.

The project was worked out bilaterally with the Government of India, as that is the standing procedure in such matters”, Dr Ney said, adding, “the loan will be provided on nominal rate and it has very good conditions.” The next step is signing of loan agreement between KfW and Government of Kerala, he said.

Germany has an abundance of experience in providing technical expertise on reconstruction of disaster-hit infrastructure since the country had tackled situations of river rising and flooding, he said.

On Indo-German development co-operation, Dr Ney said Germany has always been on the side of India on development and India has responded well to the German initiatives.

The  “Water Metro” project for Kochi involves 15 identified routes connecting 41 boat piers/jetties across10 island communities (about 500,000 inhabitants) with a 76 km route network.

The routes are expected to cater to a demand of about 100,000 passengers daily by 2035 after completion of the project, with the introduction of 78 new hybrid boats being operated every 10 to 20 minutes, together with an organized, reliable and considerably extended system of operation. The entire water transport project is proposed to be fully operational by 2020.

On projects involving German Cooperation with Kerala in the field of Energy,  he said the study on floating solar sites in Kerala (Karapuzha Reservoir and Malamphuza Dam) is in its final stage and the results will be available soon. Germany stands ready to support Kerala with financing for the implementation of such floating solar plants, if needed.

Germany is also keen to support Kerala`s ambitious solar rooftop program, which is currently under preparation by providing the necessary financing at concessional terms as well as related capacity development.

In the field of Environment and Natural Resources, KfW will support implementation of a project on ‘Watershed Development for Rehabilitation of Degraded Soils and Climate Change Adaption’ starting from 2019. This Rs. 40 crores (5 million Euro) grant funded project is a part of the German Initiative “One World, No Hunger”. The Project will help to reduce vulnerability to climate change of small scale farmers in selected 43 watersheds through the stabilization, enhancement and sustainable use of soil and water resources.

Karl Philipp Ehlerding, Deputy Consul General of German Federal Republic, Bengaluru,  and Dr Syed Ibrahim, Honorary Consul of Federal Republic of Germany were present at the press meet.

By Manoj

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