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January 29, 2001
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'World Bank can offer loan at short notice'

The World Bank would not take even a month to process India's application for release of funds to assist the earthquake victims of Gujarat, an official of the bank said on Monday.

He was commenting on Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha's statement that India would be seeking an assistance of $1 billion to assist the victims of the Gujarat earthquake.

Once the application is received by the bank headquarters, it would send an experts team to the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and recommend assistance.

Based on the report, the bank would take a decision swiftly, he said. The bank officials are already in touch with the Gujarat government to assess the damage.

The bank released a sum $700 million for the earthquake victims of Turkey where nearly 15,000 people perished a few months ago. The Gujarat disaster is almost in the same scale as the one witnessed in Turkey and the bank would not waste time on taking a decision, he said.

The bank funds long-term projects in affected areas like housing, building of roads, power distribution networks and other infrastructure needs in the affected areas.

The World Bank had released assistance to the tune of $150 million for the victims of the Orissa cyclone about a year ago. The Orissa government had sought a sum of $300 million, but the bank said that after an on-the-spot study the government cannot utilise an amount beyond $150 million, he said.



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