The Maldives got its first running track of international standard on Saturday with the inauguration of an India-backed project, which is part of a $13 million programme for community development projects across the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The inauguration ceremony for the Ekuveni synthetic running track in Male was attended by President Ibrahim Solih. The groundbreaking for the project was done in November during the visit of foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, and it was the first India-funded grant project to be inaugurated this year.
The running track is the only one of international standard in the Maldives, and it was built on an open space in Male that has been used to conduct sports events and tournaments. Over the past six months, eight grant projects backed by India have been completed in the Maldives.
The newly laid running track is designed to make the space more suited for exercise and sports and athletic events and will equally benefit sports professionals and residents of Male. The track also will promote a healthier lifestyle, which is one of the key pledges of Solih.
Solih and Indian envoy Sunjay Sudhir participated in a limited overs cricket match during the inauguration ceremony and there was also a relay race and events involving differently-abled children.
The Ekuveni project is part of 30 high-impact community development projects being implemented across the Maldives with a total outlay of $13 million from India.
The projects completed with Indian grants includes a convention centre in Ukulhas, installation of streetlights in Kolhufushi, development of Vaani police centre, provision of vehicles and machinery to the Male city council, the Goidhoo-Fehendhoo school ferry, provision of equipment for gyms on 61 islands and creation of 67 children’s parks on atolls.
Over the next three months, more India-backed projects will be inaugurated, including the Rasdhoo coastal protection project, a wetland park in Faresmathoda, and a refurbished orphanage and a renovated jetty in Hulhumale. With a special focus on the development of Addu city, India is helping set up three fish processing plants, five eco-tourism zones and a drug detoxification centre.
India has also provided grants to set up a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi and a soil-testing laboratory at the Hanimaadhoo Agricultural Research Centre.
“High impact community projects undertaken through Indian grant assistance constitute an important dimension of the dynamic development partnership between India and the Maldives,” the Indian high commission in Male said in a statement.
“This development partnership is further distinguished by its transparent and participative nature and an inherent flexibility to perfectly complement requirements of the local community and the thrust of the government on decentralisation,” it said.