NEW DELHI: India on Thursday announced a $500 million financial package for the Maldives to help execute a connectivity project to link Male with three islands. It also announced an air bubble with the country will be operational shortly.
New Delhi also said that the ferry service between the two countries, which was promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the Maldivian Parliament, would be launched.
The announcements were made during the virtual meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Madivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.
“Responding to a request from the government of the Maldives, Jaishankar announced India’s decision to support the Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCP) through a financial package comprising a grant of $100 million and a new line of credit for $400 million,” said a statement from the MEA.
The minister noted that the project would be the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives, connecting Malé with the islands of Villingili, Gulhifahu, where a port is being built with cooperation of India, and Thilafushi.
“Once completed, this landmark project will streamline connectivity between the four islands, thereby boosting economic activity, generating employment and promoting holistic urban development in the Malé region,” the MEA said.
Jaishankar said that an air travel bubble between India and the Maldives to enable movement of people from both sides for tourism and medical emergencies will also be created.
Bilateral ties blooming
During the virtual meeting, the two leaders took stock of bilateral relations and noted with satisfaction that the Covid-19 pandemic has not been able to slow down the pace of bilateral cooperation