President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Saturday, inaugurated the Ekuveni synthetic running track in Male’, marking the first India-funded grant project to be inaugurated in 2021.
Also the eighth Indian grant project in Maldives to be completed in the last six months, the track’s inauguration ceremony included a limited over cricket-match with participation of President Solih and Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir, a relay race, and showcase-events by differently-abled children.
Steered and executed by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, work on the Ekuveni running track and cricket ground started in September 2020.
The Ekuveni running track is the only track of international standards in Maldives. It is a landmark open space in capital Male’ which has been used by sportsmen and professional athletes to conduct sporting events and host sports tournaments over the years. Moreover, it also attracts fitness-enthusiasts in Male’ for jogging, exercise and other athletic pursuits.
According to the Indian High Commission, the newly-laid state-of-the-art running track is designed to make the space more suited for exercise, sports and athletic events and will equally benefit sports professionals and the residents of Male’.
“India is honoured to financially support the re-modeling and renovation of Male’s iconic sports arena. The Ekuveni track will promote a healthier lifestyle which is of the most important pledges of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih”.
The Ekuveni project forms part of a larger set of 30 High-Impact Community Development projects that are being implemented across the islands of Maldives, with a total financial outlay of MVR 200 million (USD 13 million) from India.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid thanked the Indian government for their continuous support for the people, and the local communities, by facilitating so many of these socially impactful projects across the country.
“I thank Minister of External Affairs Dr Jaishankar, for his personal commitment to the Maldives-India partnership. I would also like to thank you, High Commissioner, and your team at the High Commission, for your warm relations with the people of Maldives.”
Commenting on the close relations shared by the leaders of both countries, Shahid stated that “with the inauguration of the Ekuveni Synthetic Track, we take yet another step forward towards the strengthening of the ties between Maldives and India, the continuity of friendship between our peoples”.
In this regard, President Solih expressed hopes that more young athletes would utilise the new facilities to train hard and achieve success in their chosen sports. He urged them to endeavour to represent Maldives in international sports to attain honour and victory in the nation's name.
In addition to the track, the list of projects completed under Indian grant assistance includes the Convention Centre in Ukulhas, installation of Streetlights in Kolhufushi, development of Vaani Police Centre, providing vehicles and machinery to Male’ City council, Goidhoo-Fehendhoo school ferry, providing equipment for setting up outdoor gyms on 61 islands and 67 Children’s Parks spread across the Atolls.
During the next few months, the government is expected to inaugurate the Rasdhoo Coastal protection project, Wetland Park in Faresmathoda, a refurbished ‘My Home -Fiyavathi’ orphanage in Hulhumale’, Central Park and renovated Jetty in Hulhumale’ and classrooms in Lhohi and Kinolhas schools.
With a special focus on development of Addu city, India is also assisting in setting up three fish-processing plants, five eco-tourism zones and a Drug-Detoxification Centre in Addu. In the northern islands, India’s grant assistance includes setting up a bottled-water plant in Hoarafushi, and a soil-testing lab 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 Maldives. They involve a high-level of community participation and create an impact in the areas of livelihood and income generation, health, education, gender and child empowerment, sports, and sustainable development”, the Indian HC noted.
“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 decentralization”.