India reaches out to Indian Ocean island countries on Covid crisis, infrastructure development

WION NEW DELHI Jul 30, 2020, 01.25 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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When it comes to community projects, 18 other projects are ongoing/completed under a 50 crore grant. 

Amidst the COVID crisis, India has been reaching out to Indian Ocean Island countries of Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka

MALDIVES 

When it comes to the Maldives, India has been helping develop large as well as number of community development projects. In terms of large projects, India will be part of building up International Cricket stadium, expansion of Hanimadhoo Airport, Gulhuifalhu Port project, Cancer Hospital under its 800 million dollar line of credit. It is also helping in the construction of new Institute for Security & Law Enforcement Studies (ISLES) and restoring the iconic Friday Mosque in Male also known as Hukuru Miskiy.

When it comes to community projects, 18 other projects are ongoing/completed under a 50 crore grant. 

The streets of the national capital Male are lit up with LED lights supplied by India. India is also helping in modernization of the defence capabilities of the country and had earlier gifted a Made-in-India Fast Interceptor Craft ‘Kaamiyaab’ in Dec 2019.

On COVID crisis, Maldives has been the biggest beneficiary of India's COVID assistance. India sent 2 consignments of medicines, a 14-member Rapid Response Team, about 600 tons of food supplies under its Mission SAGAR to the country.

MAURITIUS

When it comes to Mauritius, India is the largest development partner for Mauritius with extensive focus on people-oriented projects. 5 mammoth infrastructure projects have been completed in the country under India's Special Economic Package (SEP) of $ 353 million announced in 2016. 4 projects have been completed which are-- Metro Express Project at the cost of $ 275 million with Phase 1 being completed, Supreme Court Building at the cost of $ 30million, New ENT Hospital at the cost of  USD 14 million, e-Tablets worth $ 14 million. Work is underway on the Social Housing project being built at the cost of $ 20 million. 

On defence partnership under India’s ITEC programme in FY 2018-19, 210 civilian and 169 defence slots were offered. Mauritius is also the largest beneficiary of Africa Scholarships under IAFS with 97 ICCR scholarships extended annually for higher education in India. 

India has announced Lines of Credit (LOC) worth USD 600 million at concessional terms for Mauritius with a priority focus on developmental projects. It has extended assistance in Health care sector for construction of a Renal Unit and construction of 4 Mediclinics and 2 Area Health Centres AHCs (USD 12 million).

Currently, India is working on Metro Express Project Phase 2, 956 units of Social Housing project being built at the cost of $ 20 million, Construction of Civil Service College, Renal Unit and 4 Med clinics and 2 AHCs.

When it comes to COVID assistance, India was the first to send a medical consignment to Mauritius to deal with the Covid pandemic. This included Hydrocloroquine (HCQ) tablet and other essential medicines which included a special consignment of Ayurvedic medicines. Along with this India sent a dedicated Medical Assistance Team to supplement local government’s efforts against Covid-19 pandemic.

SRI LANKA

When it comes to Sri Lanka, India’s total development assistance portfolio in Sri Lanka exceeds USD 3.45 billion, of which USD 560 million is in the form of grant assistance.  Focus ranges from capacity-building to human resources development to connectivity to infrastructure development in all the provinces in Sri Lanka. The areas include cultural conservation like restoration of Thiruketheeswaram temple to the construction of iconic landmarks like Jaffna Cultural Centre to enhancing connectivity like restoration of railway lines.

Its Housing Project to construct 50,000 houses in Sri Lanka is well known as is India’s flagship and largest grant assistance project in Sri Lanka. Over 48,600 houses have been constructed so far and 10,000 houses are planned to be constructed for the Indian-origin Tamil population in the upcountry region.

In terms of health infrastructure, nation-wide Emergency Ambulance Service with 297 ambulances was established under Indian grant assistance. Started in two provinces initially, it was expanded to all the 9 provinces following demand from other areas. The Ambulances played a useful role in saving lives in the aftermath of the Easter terror bombing in Sri Lanka in April 2019.

India has gifted a 150-bed hospital in Dickoya in Central province, a 200-bed ward complex at the General Hospital in Vavuniya, Northern Province, and upgraded medical facilities in 3 hospitals in the Northern Province. Currently, India is constructing a Surgical Unit in Batticaloa Teaching Hospital in the Eastern Province.

On the connectivity front, India has helped restore arterial railway lines, which sustained heavy damage in Tsunami in 2004. New Delhi reconnected northern Sri Lanka with the rest of the country by restoring railway lines, establishing signaling systems and supplying rolling stocks, this after a gap of 25 years. India is also helping in the development of Kankesanthurai harbor in the northern tip. Air connectivity from Chennai to Jaffna was restored after a gap of more than 3 decades with the commencement of flights between Chennai and Jaffna in November 2019.

In November 2019, during the visit of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to India Indian PM announced two new Lines of Credit for USD 400 million for infrastructure development and USD 50 million for security and counter-terrorism. This is in addition to the USD 100 million LOC offered in 2018 for undertaking solar projects in Sri Lanka.

When it comes to Covid Assistance, India has supported the efforts of Sri Lanka in its fight against COVID 19 by providing them four consignments of Covid-19 related essential life-saving medicines and equipment in April and May 2020. India was the first to send medicines to Sri Lanka.