The World Bank (WB) has agreed to extend a $1.5 billion loan to India to build 24,000 km of all-weather roads in rural areas. The loan will be used to fund the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in seven economically poor areas of hilly states like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Other states may also be included in the programme in the next five years.This is the largest ever rural roads project approved by the World Bank and is expected to benefit more than six million people. Under the project, participating states will achieve 91 per cent connectivity in the next five years by building new roads and improving the links of the existing network. The Indian Government will partly finance the project.