Modi, Mauritius PM to inaugurate Port Louis SC built with Indian aid
The Supreme Court building is one of five projects implemented under a $353-million special economic package extended by India in 2016. The structure is the first India-assisted infrastructure project in the capital of Mauritius.Updated: Jul 29, 2020 07:51 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth will on Thursday jointly inaugurate the new Supreme Court built in Port Louis with Indian grant assistance, reflecting New Delhi’s sharpened focus on its “neighbourhood first” policy.
The Supreme Court building is one of five projects implemented under a $353-million special economic package extended by India in 2016. The structure is the first India-assisted infrastructure project in the capital of Mauritius.
India also announced the implementation of nine “high impact community development projects” (HICDP) in the Maldives on Tuesday. Indian envoy Sunjay Sudhir handed over a symbolic cheque to mark the implementation of projects worth $5.6 million during a ceremony at the foreign ministry in Male, which was attended by foreign minister Abdulla Shahid and members of Parliament.
New Delhi has taken several steps in recent days to revive economic activity amid the Covid-19 crisis and to shore up relations with key neighbours amid the border standoff with China.
On Monday, India handed over 10 railway locomotives to Bangladesh. Over the weekend, India announced a $400-million currency swap facility under the SAARC framework for Sri Lanka. Another $400 million was provided through an extended currency swap arrangement to the Maldives and India will soon “announce another substantial financial assistance package” to help post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
The inauguration of the new Supreme Court building in Port Louis will be done via video conference in the presence of senior members of the judiciary of Mauritius and other dignitaries.
The building was completed within schedule and below the expected cost, the external affairs ministry said in a statement. The building, spread over more than 4700 sq m with 10 floors and a built-up area of 25,000 sq m, has green features and high energy efficiency. It will house all divisions and offices of the Supreme Court.
In October 2019, Modi and Jugnauth inaugurated the first phase of the Metro Express project and a new 100-bed ENT hospital in Mauritius, also built under the special economic package. Construction of 12 km of the metro line was completed till last September, and work on a 14-km line in the second phase is underway.
“The successful and timely completion of India-assisted high quality infrastructure projects in Mauritius shall also create greater opportunities for Indian companies in Mauritius and in the region,” the statement said.
India and the Maldives signed a MoU on HICDPs during the visit of late former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in March 2019. A grant of $5.6 million was announced for these projects and there was another cash grant of $7 million for small projects.
These projects, chosen by the Maldives, are meant to have a high level of community impact and participation in areas such as income generation, healthcare, education and sustainable development.
The HICDPs include three fish processing plants in Addu city, the Addu Tourism Zone and a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi, which are being steered by local authorities. Contracts for building the fish processing plants were awarded on July 22 and contracts for five eco-tourism projects are expected to be awarded soon.
Sudhir said India’s strategy for development cooperation with the Maldives includes big projects under a $800-million line of credit and a large number of smaller grant projects. He noted these projects are transparent and demand-driven, with full ownership for the Maldives government.
Former ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, distinguished fellow for foreign policy studies at Gateway House, said the standoff with China had clearly triggered a policy reappraisal by South Block.
“India remains committed to its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, which has led to many successes. South Asia is of immense importance to India’s national interests and it has to keep pursuing these goals,” he said.
“Recent developments pertaining to Iran and Nepal underline the need to pursue the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy with greater commitment and perhaps greater generosity. We can expect more such initiatives, perhaps even for Myanmar,” he added.