New Delhi, Aug 26 (PTI): The Maldives on Thursday sealed a contract for the implementation of an India-funded connectivity project, billed as the largest infrastructure initiative being rolled out in the island nation.
Under the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) project, a 6.74-km-long bridge and causeway link will be built to connect capital city Male with adjoining islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi.
Funded under a grant of USD 100 million and a Line of Credit of USD 400 million from India, this will be the largest infrastructure project in the Maldives, officials said.
The contract for the implementation of the project was signed between the Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure of the Maldives and Afcons Infrastructure Ltd.
“This is a defining moment in the development journey of the Maldives,” Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said on Twitter.
The signing ceremony was attended by Minister of National Planning & Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Transport Aishath Nahula and Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir.
The largest connectivity project so far in the Maldives is the Sinamale bridge (1.4 km) built under Chinese assistance connecting Male with Hulhule and Hulhumale.
In a series of tweets, the Maldivian foreign minister thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for supporting the development journey of the Maldives.
“India is proud to be a key development partner of Maldives. Deeply committed to its national progress,” Jaishankar tweeted in his response.
Enhancing regional connectivity has been a key priority for India and the Maldives.
A direct cargo ferry service connecting Tuticorin in Kochi with Male and Kulhuffushi was started in September 2020.
Development cooperation has been a key emerging pillar of the India-Maldives relationship with New Delhi providing Lines of Credit of over USD 1.2 billion for infrastructure and grants for community development projects to the island nation.
India extended assistance to the Maldives during the coronavirus pandemic that included the early supply of vaccines.
The Maldives was the first beneficiary of India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative. So, far India has provided 300,000 doses of Covishield, of which 200,000 were gifted.
The Maldives is the first country in South Asia with which India started an ‘Air Travel Bubble’.