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Maldives to send back India gifted helicopter?!

Mohamed Visham
28 June 2016, MVT 12:43
The first helicopter gifted by India to the Maldives in 2010. PHOTO/MNDF
Mohamed Visham
28 June 2016, MVT 12:43

Maldives government is considering returning one of the helicopters gifted by India, Mihaaru understands.

India first gifted a helicopter to the Maldives miltary in 2010 during former president Mohamed Nasheed's administration.

The second one gifted in May is operated from Laamu Atoll Kadhdhoo domestic airport.

Both the choppers are currently being piloted by Indian Navy officers until locals can complete training. The Indian pilots' stay in the archipelago is facilitated by a "letter of exchange" between the two governments which is renewed every two years.

Mihaaru has found that the latest agreement had expired two months ago. Sources say the Maldives government has stalled the renewal of the agreement despite numerous requests by India.

Sources also say the government is dragging its feet as it decides on sending one of the choppers back to its neighbor.

However, the Indian high commission in Male refused to comment while defence minister Adam Shareef insisted that a decision over the chopper in Gan is yet to be made.

The board and lodging expenses of the Indians in Gan is covered by the Maldives government while the expenses of the 33 Indians in Kadhdhoo is borne by India.

Minister Shareef denied that the expenses were a factor but said the India had provided some "relief" for the chopper at Kadhdhoo.

Both the choppers are generally used to airlift patients to capital Male.

India have also pledged a military aircraft to the Maldives.

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