New Delhi (NVI): India and Maldives today signed four memorandums of understanding (MoUs), including the grant of $100 million by India for the $500-million Greater Male Connectivity Project that will link the capital Male with three islands.
The development took place during Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Maldives as he met his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed and discussed ways on economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In the last two years, Maldives has seen the fruition of key development cooperation initiatives taken during the State Visit of President Solih to India in Dec 2018 and subsequent high level engagements. The financial package of US$ 1.4 billion announced during the State Visit, as well as projects funded by the HICDP grant and cash grant announced last March have now become a reality for all to see,” FS Shringla said on the occasion.
“Since then, the Indian Government has provided additional assistance of US$ 500 million for the Greater Malé Connectivity Project. This project which will connect Malé with Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi through bridges and causeways, will become a new economic lifeline for Maldives. It will link capital Malé, with the new commercial port at Gulhifalhu, also being funded under and Indian LoC, and the Thilafushi industrial zone,” he added.
The Foreign Secretary was speaking at the handing over of Children’s parks for 67 islands in Maldives under cash grant projects, at National Stadium, Male.
Shringla, who is on a two-day visit, also met President Ibrahim Solih to review bilateral ties.
“We are committed to speedy implementation of the projects. We are already in the middle of completing procedures for the LOC US$ 1.2 billion projects,” Shringla was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.
“The Covid pandemic has caused widespread disruptions, but I am happy that even Covid could not stop or slow down India-Maldives cooperation. President Solih has himself publicly pointed out that India has been the largest supporter and assistance provider in dealing with the pandemic. Last month India provided US$ 250 million financial assistance, as a concessional loan, leaving it entirely to GoM to decide its usage in accordance with its priorities,” he said.
The four MoU’s signed during Shringla’s visit also included cooperation in youth and sports affairs, setting up soil and plant testing laboratories, and establishing a drug detox facility.
Shringla also mentioned that India’s development projects in Maldives are demand-driven and will involve the Maldivian government at all stages. The tendering process and award of contract will also be done by the Government of Maldives, he said.
“We are committed to speedy implementation of the projects. We are already in the middle of completing procedures for the LOC US$ 1.2 billion projects,” he said.
On the occasion, Shringla also reiterated India’s commitment towards providing Covid-19 vaccine to Maldives when it is ready.
“Our Prime Minister has stated that India will produce an affordable and accessible vaccine for all our partners and friends and in this, as a close neighbour and friend, we will accord priority to Maldives. I am pleased to announce that whenever a vaccine is developed in India, we will share it with the Government of Maldives,” he said.