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At Mauritius event, PM Modi spotlights India’s development partnership approach

PM Narendra Modi said India’s approach to development partnership is based on “the needs and priorities of our partners and respects their sovereignty”, an apparent reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative that has been criticised for creating a “debt trap”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the inauguration of India-assisted social housing units project, civil service college and 8MW Solar PV Farm projects in Mauritius on Thursday. (ANI)
Published on Jan 20, 2022 09:22 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth on Thursday inaugurated a $45-million social housing project with 956 units and launched work on a solar power plant and a civil service college to be built with Indian aid of more than $500 million.

At a virtual event joined by the prime ministers, the two countries also concluded agreements for India to provide about $200 million as assistance for a metro rail and other infrastructure projects in Mauritius and for small but high-impact development projects in fields such as education, healthcare and disaster risk reduction.

Referring to the long-standing ties between the two sides based on history, ancestry, culture, and the waters of the Indian Ocean, Modi said in his opening remarks that the development partnership has become a key pillar in the close ties.

“Mauritius is a prime example of India’s approach to development partnership which is based on the needs and priorities of our partners and respects their sovereignty,” he said, in an apparent reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative that has been criticised for creating a “debt trap” in several Indian Ocean states.

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Modi added: “Mauritius is also integral to our approach to the Indian Ocean. It was in Mauritius, during my 2015 visit, that I had outlined India’s maritime cooperation vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region.”

Thank you, says Mauritius PM

Jugnauth interspersed his address with remarks in Hindi to convey his government’s gratitude for the wide-ranging cooperation and technical and financial assistance provided by India over the years. “We never cease to acknowledge that without the financial assistance of the government of India, this [metro] project would not have been implemented so fast,” he said.

He said one of the major stations on the metro rail system will be named after Mahatma Gandhi to express the gratitude of Mauritius. Noting that the loans and grants reflect India’s commitment to the progress of Mauritius, Jugnauth invited Modi to visit the country in November or December for the inauguration of the full metro service.

India-assisted projects in Mauritius

The 956 social housing units located at two sites were built with an Indian grant of $20 million and a line of credit of $25 million. This was one of five large infrastructure projects that were part of an Indian $ 353-million special economic package unveiled in 2016. The units were built by an Indian firm to bolster the Mauritius government’s affordable housing scheme.

The two leaders virtually laid the foundation stone of the civil service college to be built with a grant of $4.74 million. The college, to be completed in 18 months, will build capacity in public sector management and governance.

The 8-MW solar farm at Tamarind Falls, to be built with a line of credit of $500 million from India’s Exim Bank, is expected to be completed in 11 months. The facility will be the largest solar farm in Mauritius and will generate 14GWh a year. The plant will help Mauritius achieve its target of having 60% of renewables in its energy mix by 2030, and reduce the use of coal and oil imports.

The two agreements concluded on Thursday included a line of credit for $190 million from India’s Exim Bank for the metro rail and other infrastructure projects, and a memorandum of understanding on small but high impact development projects worth $10 million in fields such as education, healthcare, community development, women’s empowerment, disaster risk reduction and energy.

The first phase of the metro rail was inaugurated in 2019 and it has carried more than 5.6 million passengers since commercial operations began in January 2020. The second and third phases of the flagship project will be completed by the end of 2022 and work is already underway on the fourth phase.

Modi also pointed to ongoing maritime security and defence cooperation between the two sides, saying this has translated the vision of SAGAR into action. “Despite the constraints of Covid, we were able to hand over a Dornier aircraft on lease and complete the short refit of the Mauritian Coast Guard ship Barracuda,” he said.

The Dornier aircraft was leased in September 2021 and the free refit of the Coast Guard vessel was completed in October 2021.

“In the coming days, we will begin work on several important projects such as the renal transplant unit, the Forensic Science Laboratory, the National Library and Archives, the Mauritius Police Academy, and many others. I would like to reiterate today that India will always continue to stand by Mauritius in its development journey,” Modi said.

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