Sunday, June 20, 2021

India Strengthens Maritime Security Ties With Seychelles; Modi Gifts Rs 1Bn Patrol Vessel

India gifted a Fast Patrol Vessel (FSV) worth Rs 1 billion to Seychelles during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan on Thursday. Named ‘PS Zoroaster’, this is the fourth ship gifted by India to help the island nation bolster its maritime security.

“India is committed to strengthening the maritime security of Seychelles. Today, we are handing over a new, state-of-the-art, Made in India, Fast Patrol Vessel to the Seychelles Coast Guard. This vessel will help Seychelles to protect its maritime resources,” Modi said during his speech on Thursday.

The President of Seychelles is of Indian origin; so are three of his cabinet colleagues. The island nation, which figures prominently in India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy, is of strategic importance to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region.

According to a Nikkei Asia analysis, “India’s attempts to establish security footholds in Mauritius and Seychelles are part of a broader design by New Delhi to develop a maritime security axis in a stretch of the Indian Ocean where China has gone on a building spree. Chinese largesse built a new parliament building and supreme court in Seychelles. China has also donated two light aircraft and two naval vessels to the island nation.”

The 50-meter FSV is a fully equipped naval ship, which will be used for patrolling, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching, and search and rescue (SAR) missions. It has been built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited (GRSE), one of India’s defense public sector companies.

The FSV has already been delivered to Seychelles on Mach 16 but the ceremonial handover to the Coast Guard of Seychelles took place at 5 pm on April 8. Earlier, New Delhi had gifted PS Topaz in 2005, PS Constant (2014), and Patrol Boat Hermes (2016) to the island nation.

The event also witnessed the e-inauguration of the new Magistrates’ Court Building, 10 High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPS), and the handover of a 1 MW Solar Power Plant at Romainville Island in Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Modi said, “India is honored to be a partner of Seychelles in the development of its security capabilities and in meeting its infrastructural and developmental needs.”

The new magistrates’ building in the capital city of Victoria on Mahe Island is India’s first civil mega-infrastructure project in Seychelles.

The 1 MW Solar Plant, which will produce 14 lakh units of power annually, will be the source of electricity for approximately 400 houses on the island chains. This will save annual consumption of fuel costing approx. USD 2.25 lakh per year.

The HICDPs will be implemented to create social and economic capital for the local communities and will include small, people-oriented projects. Seychelles was also the first African country to receive 50,000 doses of Made-in-India Covishield vaccine from India in January 2021 under the Modi government’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative.

During his tour of Indian Ocean countries in 2015, PM Modi announced India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision. He became the first prime minister to visit Seychelles in the past 33 years.

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