New Delhi pins its prestige on Mauritius project

New Delhi pins its prestige on Mauritius project

Effort crucial after setbacks in Seychelles and Maldives

As work gets under way on one of India’s prize projects in the Indian Ocean to upgrade facilities on the Agalega islands in Mauritius, the government is watching a battle brewing in the Mauritius parliament over the project.

After facing resistance over placing its helicopters in the Maldives’ Addu Atoll and the virtual cancellation of its project to develop the Assumption Island in the Seychelles earlier this year, New Delhi is moving swiftly but quietly to ensure its project in Mauritius — to construct a jetty, rebuild and extend the runway, and build an airport terminal — does not run into trouble.

The $87 million project, to be funded by India, has been awarded to AFCON construction group and RITES engineering consultancy. Surveys have begun to fulfil the contract signed on September 28 this year, which stipulated that construction begin by February 12, 2019, and be completed in 2021.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s government faced tough questions in the National Assembly over Indian involvement in the project and its costs and whether it would involve a military component.

“Agalega is and will remain a Mauritian territory,” Vice-Prime Minister Fazila Jeewa Daureeawoo told the Assembly on Tuesday. “This is an important project. We don’t want the jetty and the airstrip to remain in poor condition,” she added.

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