Wednesday, April 17, 2024
India News

Maldives snubs India over hydrographic survey deal after signing military pact with China

According to PTI, Muizzu also announced that Maldives is working to establish a 24/7 monitoring system for the Maldivian waters this month to ensure control of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) despite its significantly large area.

Speaking at a ceremony at one of the islands that he was visiting on Monday, Muizzu said, the Maldives Ministry of Defence is making efforts to obtain the facilities required for conducting the hydrographic surveys by the country itself.

“This will allow Maldives to conduct the underwater surveys of the country by ourselves. We will then acquire all insights of our underwater features and prepare charts, they will be drawn by us,” the president was quoted as saying by Edition.mv, a news portal on Tuesday.

Efforts to conduct the hydrography survey in collaboration with India’s Hydrography Office was launched in January 2021. Maldives’ former administration, led by then President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, had signed an agreement with the Indian government to conduct hydrographic surveys of Maldives’ underwater features.

“We decided not to renew the agreement entered into with the Indian government to scan and acquire all insights and sceneries of our underwater body. All these underwater details are the property of our heritage. They depart after performing scans in manners that acquaint them to all insights [of Maldives’ underwater body], draw maps [from the surveys] and to top it all, we end up having to purchase it from them as well,” the President was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Muizzu said his government has vowed to begin work on and establish a 24/7 monitoring system of the Maldivian waters in March. “Although the EEZ is part of our territory, we did not have the capacity to monitor the area. God willing, our work (to monitor the Maldivian waters) will commence in March. We will establish a 24/7 monitoring system during this month,” Sun.mv, a news portal reported, quoting the President.

According to the local report, the President highlighted that locals will be performing these surveys and drawing the charts to end the reliance on India for these works

Maldives reducing dependence on India

Maldives has started reducing its dependence on India after Muizzu took over as the new president of the island nation and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lakshwadeep visit triggered a diplomatic row between the two countries.

First, Muizzu asked India to withdraw its military personnel from Maldives by May 10. According to reports, he declared that no Indian military personnel, including those in civilian attire, would be permitted in his country after May 10.

Second, Muizzu said in January that Maldivians will now be able to go to hospitals in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, several Maldivians come to India and Sri Lanka for healthcare services under the government-sponsored free health program.

Without naming India, a press release by the Maldives’ government said, “The President conveyed that the enhancements would diminish reliance on confined medical facilities in a select group of countries, enabling patients to pursue finer healthcare.”

Third, in another press release on January 13, Muizzu announced that agreements to assist the Maldives in expanding agricultural growth to cater to food security were signed with the Chinese government. “The President further remarked that the Government would end its dependence on one country for imported staple foods such as rice, sugar, and flour,” the release said.

Maldives-China defence agreement

Muizzu said on Tuesday that the Chinese government is ready to extend training to Maldives army and provide non-lethal weaponry under a military grant, Maldives news Network reported.

This is the first time Maldives signed a deal with China for military cooperation of this level. Previously, China had been exclusively known for its assistance towards urban and economic development of the Maldives, news portal Sun.mv said.

Earlier, a Chinese research vessel spent about a week around Male and more than a month just outside Maldives’ EEZ.

Muizzu’s government had announced that it reviewing more than 100 agreements signed with India by the previous regimes.

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Published: 06 Mar 2024, 08:46 PM IST

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