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Greater Male Connectivity Project: Maldives

  • 27 Aug 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, Afcons, an Indian company, has signed a contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project in Maldives which is the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP).

  • The project is the result of bilateral consultation between India and the Maldives and has been under discussion since the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister to Male in September 2019.

Key Points

  • Greater Male Connectivity Project:
    • It will consist of a 6.74 km-long bridge and causeway link between Male and nearby islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi. It will use renewable energy.
      • The project is funded by a grant of USD 100 million and a Line of Credit (LOC) of USD 400 million from India.
    • It is not only the biggest project India is doing in the Maldives but also the biggest infrastructure project in the Maldives overall.
  • Significance:
    • It is considered as the economic lifeline for the Maldives and will provide a major boost to connectivity between the four islands accounting for about half of the Maldivian population.
    • It will add dynamism to the Maldivian transport and economic activities.
  • India-Maldives-China:
    • The GMCP project would be bigger than the Sinamale Bridge built with Chinese assistance that connects Male with Hulhumale and Hulhule and was completed in 2018.
    • Also the Indian aid to Maldives in August 2020 was appreciated and contrasted with the previous expensive commercial loans to Maldives by China which are being termed “debt-trap diplomacy” of China.
      • Wherein China intentionally extends excessive credit to another country with the intention of extracting economic or political concessions from the debtor country.
    • The India-Maldives relationship suffered a setback when Maldives entered into a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in 2017.
    • At present, India-assisted projects in the region include water and sewerage projects on 34 islands, reclamation projects for the Addl island, a port on Gulhifalhu, airport redevelopment at Hanimaadhoo, and a hospital and a cricket stadium in Hulhumale.
      • India had also announced a 800 million USD Line of Credit to Maldives in December 2018.
  • Recent Developments:

Way Forward

  • This isn’t only about an ambitious project involving both India and the Maldives. The terms of the agreement call for the completion of the bridge by 2023.
  • For India, Maldives holds strategic importance and showing that it can deliver would help mitigate some concerns that may exist in the Maldives.
  • In accordance with the Neighbourhood First Policy of the government, India remains a committed development partner for a stable, prosperous and peaceful Maldives.
  • Given the economic hardships being faced by Maldives due to Covid-19 pandemic and previous debts, this project and previous packages will definitely warm up the relationship between both the countries.
    • This will also provide a strategic edge to India over China with regards to Maldives.

Source: IE

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