Indian also be handing over formally, the Coastal Radar System which is already operational and will help in enhancing maritime security…writes SUMIT KUMAR SINGH
India and Maldives partnership today ranges to $2.6 billion in terms of grants, concessional loans, budgetary support and capacity building and training assistance.
India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is in Maldives for two days — from March 26 to March 27, during which he will call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
He held discussions with the Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid and signed several agreements related to the bilateral development cooperation, inauguration/ and handing-over and launch of a number of key India-supported projects that will contribute to the socio-economic development of Maldives and enhance its security.
Addu roads projects
At Addu city, which consists of the inhabited islands southernmost part of Maldives, India is supporting projects in a range of sectors — infrastructure, tourism, fish processing and health.
“We will be witnessing the inauguration and launch of some of these projects. Work has commenced on Addu Roads projects, as also on the 4,000 housing units, the drinking water and sanitation,” said India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, in his address to Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and other senior officers.
Greater Male connectivity project
He also said the iconic Greater Male Connectivity Project, which holds the potential of actually transforming the transport landscape of the capital, has moved from the “level of concept to preliminary works in less than two years, that too during the years of Covid”.
“Geo-technical surveys are ongoing. I hope we can do a ground-breaking in the coming months,” he said.
Hanimaadhoo Airport project
The Hanimaadhoo Airport Redevelopment Project, the expansion of facilities of MIFCO, the cricket stadium, — and the social housing projects have all seen momentum in implementation in the past year.
The detailed project report of $40 million Sports Line of Credit was in February last year is near completion. Under this Line of Credit, the National Stadium will be renovated and sports infrastructure would be built across Maldives.
National Knowledge Network
In the fields of capacity building and training, the National Knowledge Network (NKN) will be inaugurated.
“And, with the signing of the Peering Agreement today, over 1,500 Indian institutes and a host of universities and centres of learning from Singapore, Europe and the US are now connected to the Maldives,” he said.
“The NKN is a real expression of the best of our regional cooperation in the digital and education arenas,” Jaishankar added.
Talking about the climate change challenges, Jaishankar commended both the governments and the people of Maldives for their efforts and ambition in the area of climate change. India stands ready to share its capabilities with Maldives in this regard.
“We are already engaged in the development of water and sanitation facilities on 34 islands through LoC financing. Apart from extending basic civic amenities to island communities, the project that is one of the largest climate adaptation measures ongoing in the Maldives at a cost of more than $100 million, I think is very noteworthy,” he said.
Threat of transnational crimes and terrorism and drug trafficking being very serious, the minister said that capacity building and cooperation and training have expanded in this regards.
“I think it is for both of us, strengthens our defence and security,” he said.
The National College of Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) is the largest grant funded project by India in Maldives, and prior to the Greater Male Connectivity Project.
It will assist the Maldives Police Service (MPS) to train its officers and enhance its crime-fighting capacities for the years to come.
“We are also signing an MoU for capacity building between the Maldives Police and our National Police Academy,” he said.
Indian also be handing over formally, the Coastal Radar System which is already operational and will help in enhancing maritime security.