This project is said to give a major boost to the Maldivian economy
India signed the contract for the largest infrastructure project, the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) in Maldives on Thursday.
The deal was signed between the Mumbai-based Afcons Infrastructure Limited, a construction and engineering company and the Republic of Maldives.
The Indian company itself started as a civil construction company in 1959 and later crossed the $1 billion mark in 2017. It has a wide international presence.
The project entails the construction of a series of bridges and causeways that amount to 6.74 kilometres long connecting Male to Vilingili, the industrial zone in Thilafushi, together with the newly proposed international port at Gulhifalhu.
A regular cargo ferry-service is also to be built between the two countries to accelerate trade and commerce.
It is funded by a grant of $100 million and a line of credit of $400 million from India.
“Delighted that the contract for the Greater Male Connectivity – Male to Thilafushi Link Project has been signed between the Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure and AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd. This is a defining moment in the development journey of the Maldives,” said Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of the Maldives to The Hindu
The relationship between India and Maldives is deeply rooted in its shared ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties. India was among the first to recognise the nation after its independence in 1965 and establish diplomatic relations between them.
India has had cordial relations with the country, strengthened constantly by engagement at the highest levels.
As recently as on 6th August, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka agreed to work on ‘four pillars’ of security co-operation – marine security, human traficking, counter-terrorism and cyber security.
Maldives has always been a key partner in India’s neighbourhood policy. According to The Financial Express, India was the first country to extend its support for Abdulla Shahid’s candidature as the President of the General Assembly (PGA) for the turn of Asia-Pacific in December 2018.
According to a Raajje’s news report, on India’s Independence day, Maldives vice president Faizal Nazeem had made the statement that the country is very fortunate to have India as a neighbour and closest bilateral partner.
“For us, India is our closest friend, our leading development partner, our first responder. In the long history of our relations, India has always extended assistance whenever we were in need” Faizal Nazeem had added.
Maldives has also supported India in forums like the Southeast Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the United Nations (UN).
According to Economic Times, during Indian External affairs minister Jaishankar’s visit to the Maldives in February , he had signed a $50 million Line of Credit to to facilitate maritime capability building of the island nations.
Under India’s Mission SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), that was launched in 2020, Maldives was one of the nations to be provided with COVID-19 assistance.
Considering good bilateral relations between India and the archipelago nation, the signing of this mega infrastructure project is one major step to strengthen the relationship.
India and Maldives had first signed the GMPC agreement in 2020.
This project complements the Gulhifalu commercial port project which is being done under an Indian Line of Credit of $800 million.
According to The Hindu, the signing ceremony was attended by representatives from Maldives like Mohamed Aslam, Minister for National Planning and Infrastructure; Faiyyaz Ismail, Minister for Economic Development; Ibrahim Ameer, Minister for Finance; and Minister for Transport Aishath Nahula. Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Sudhir and senior representatives from AFCONS represented the Indian side.
(Inputs from ANI, MEA and others)