India to provide USD 500 million assistance for connectivity project in Maldives
The 6.7 km Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) will be the largest civilian infrastructure project in the Maldives, which will connect Male with three neighbouring islands- Gulhifahu, Villingili, Thilafushi.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on August 13, 2020 announced that the Indian government will fund the implementation of major connectivity project in the Maldives with USD 400 million line of credit and USD 100 million grant.
The announcement was made after the Union External Affairs Minister had wide-ranging talks with Abdulla Shahid, his Maldivian counterpart.
As per the officials, the 6.7 km Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) will be the largest civilian infrastructure project in the Maldives, which will connect Male with three neighbouring islands- Gulhifahu, Villingili, Thilafushi.
India will fund the implementation of Greater Male Connectivity Project through a $400 mn LOC & $100 mn grant. This 6.7 km bridge project connecting Male with Gulhifalhu Port & Thilafushi industrial zone will help revitalise and transform Maldivian economy. pic.twitter.com/OFClBpVY7l— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 13, 2020
• President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohammad had sought India’s assistance for GMCP during his meeting with S Jaishankar in September 2019. This step was also seen as a key election promise of the ruling MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) in the Maldives.
• The GMCP Project will include the construction of a bridge and causeway link spanning 6.7 km.
• The 6.7 km bridge project connecting Male with Gulhifahu port and Thilafushi industrial zone will help in transforming the Maldivian economy.
• External Affairs Minister also announced a start of regular cargo ferry service between India and Maldives for boosting trade and commerce between the two countries.
• There will also be an air travel bubble with the Maldives to promote and sustain the dynamic people-to-people ties between India and Maldives.
• India has also decided to extend the financial support for the construction of a port in Gulhifahu.
Developing relations between India and Maldives:
As per the Ministry of External Affairs, once completed, the landmark GMCP will streamline the connectivity between the four islands, which will generate employment, boost the economy, and promote holistic urban development in the Male region.
S Jaishankar on the ferry service between Maldives and India highlighted its significance in enhancing the connectivity and bilateral trade and further boosting the economic partnership between two countries. It will also be reducing the logistics costs and times for traders.
On the creation of an air bubble, MEA informed that the Maldives is the first neighbouring country with which an air bubble has been operationalized. It symbolizes India’s support to shore up the tourism arrivals and revenues in the Maldives. The first flight under the air bubble is expected to commence on August 18 and health protocols will be strictly followed.
External Affairs Minister during the meeting also conveyed Shahid India’s decision to renew quotas for the supply of essential commodities for the Maldives for the year 2020-21.
It includes food items such as onions, rice, potatoes, wheat, sugar, flour, dal, eggs as well as stone aggregates and river sands. The quotas will assure food security and the supply of essential construction items which will further provide certainty and price stability in the Maldives.