The World Bank has approved $82m for several road projects in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

The move was announced by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, reported The Hindustan Times.

The funding by the international financial institution was allocated to the State Roads Transformation Project (HPSRTP), which involves upgrading major roads in the state, as well as modernising the public works department.

With the first tranche of funds, Himachal Pradesh aims to start working on the 45km Barotiwala-Baddi-Sain-Ramshehar road, the 14.5km Dadol-Ladraurr road, the 28km Mandi-Riwalsar-Kalkhar road, and the 3.5km Raghunathpura-Mandi-Harpura-Bharari road.

The chief minister also noted that the current Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted road construction and maintenance works.

In 2019-20, the state aimed to construct 900km of roads. However, it achieved around 800km due to the suspension of work triggered by the pandemic.

He also highlighted that the state will be focussing on using local labour to facilitate its ongoing projects.

In addition, the government is planning to open hardware shops to ensure supplies of construction material, as well as to allow the inter-district movement of machinery to allow the resumption of work.

India is currently under a government-mandated nationwide lockdown to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Thakur was quoted by the publication as saying: “Roads reflect the developmental picture of any state thus special emphasis should be laid on their periodic repair and local labour can be deployed for such activities.”

Earlier this week, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) resumed toll collection on national highways after the government relaxed some restrictions.

Toll collection was suspended for nearly one month to expedite the transportation of emergency goods and services amid Covid-19 crisis.