Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said India will finance a major connectivity project in Maldives through a $400 million line of credit and $100 million grant after talks with his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.
The 6.7 km Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCP) will be the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives, connecting Malé with three neighbouring islands — Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi, officials said.
People familiar with the GMCP pointed out that its implementation was a key election promise of the ruling MDP for which the President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had sought India’s assistance during a meeting with Jaishankar in September.
“India will fund the implementation of Greater Malé Connectivity Project through a $ 400 mn LOC & $ 100 mn grant. This 6.7 km bridge project connecting Malé with Gulhifalhu Port & Thilafushi industrial zone will help revitalise and transform Maldivian economy,” Jaishankar said in a Twitter post.
He also announced the start of regular cargo ferry service between India and Maldives to boost trade and commerce between the two countries.
“We’re also starting an air travel bubble with Maldives to sustain and promote the dynamic people-to-people ties between the two countries,” he added.
Since the election of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the president of the Maldives in 2018, India has been working over time to keep the Maldives within its sphere of influence. Solih’s predecessor Abdullah Yameen was seen as close to China, something that kept India wary.
The Indian foreign ministry in a statement on Thursday said “once completed, this (GMCP) landmark project will streamline connectivity between the four islands, thereby boosting economic activity, generating employment and promoting holistic urban development in the Malé region.”