New Delhi, May 7: The European Investment Bank (EIB) on Friday announced an emergency financial assistance of Euro 250,000 (approx Rs 2.2 crore) to support India's response to the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement was made a day ahead of a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the heads of state or government of all the 27 European Union member states.

"Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank announced today an emergency EUR 250,000 donation from the EU Bank`s own funds to India in response to the escalating COVID-19 crisis," the EIB said in a release. UK Health Authorities Elevate Version of Indian COVID-19 Variant as Concerning.

The donation will go to Unicef Luxembourg, Red Cross International and Malteser International to acquire life-saving equipment in particular to improve access to oxygen including oxygen generation plants as well as the procurement of oxygen cylinders urgently needed across India, it said.

It said the donation will also help reinforce key emergency services such as ambulances, blood supply and a 24/7 helpline besides stepping up communication and awareness campaigns to address "misinformation" on COVID-19 immunisation.

"The European Investment Bank stands by India during these challenging times and our donation is a sign of solidarity and support. The EIB as the EU Bank is ready to strengthen cooperation with Indian partners to tackle the pandemic and recover as quickly as possible," Hoyer said.

The EIB said it has also finalised with the State Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance investments to the tune of EUR 300 million in urban metro systems in the cites of Kanpur and Pune.

A separate investment of EUR 25 million in NEEV II, an equity fund set up to support small and medium businesses in India, was also finalised, the bank said. To date, the EIB has invested EUR 2.6 billion in urban metro systems in Bhopal, Kanpur, Pune, Lucknow and Bangalore, the bank said.

"Five years ago, Prime Minister Modi called upon the EIB to accelerate support for high-impact sustainable transport investment and climate across India. Today's new agreements will further support transformation of urban mobility for millions of commuters through the construction of new world-class metro networks in Kanpur and Pune," Hoyer said.

He said the new cooperation with the State Bank of India, through the innovative NEEV II fund, will unlock EUR 100 million of sustainable business investment by companies across India.

"As outlined by the new EIB-International Solar Alliance study on off-grid solar, visionary and ambitious long-term public and private investment and sharing best-practice is key to strengthening India's green recovery from COVID-19," he said. EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto said climate action and environmental sustainability are the need of the hour to save the planet.

"Climate change and the green transition will also be key priorities at the upcoming EU-India leaders meeting. The EIB has been investing in sustainable infrastructure in India for over 25 years," he said. "This latest funding will further strengthen our cooperation with India and help the private sector to develop innovative solutions to tackle climate change," he added.

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