GMR airport glitch: Govt reviews overall ties with Maldives

GMR airport glitch: Govt reviews overall ties with Maldives New Delhi: In the backdrop of cancellation of GMR's airport contract by Maldives, the government has reviewed overall relationship with it at the highest level and discussed various options in view of anti-India sentiment that could hurt India's interests "directly".

The Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took into account the developments surrounding cancellation of the contract and its possible wider consequences, sources said.

The meeting was told that anti-India sentiment exists in Maldives among a small section but such people are even in the government.

In view of this, India is not ruling out the possibility of its interests being hurt "directly", a reference to its citizens or assets being harmed, the sources said.

It was noted that rule of law is weak and India will have to be ready with proportional response to deal with any contingency.

Accordingly, various options were considered, which included stronger measures to protect India's interests, the sources said.

It was decided that this measure should not be resorted to as of now and the situation should be dealt with through diplomacy.

The Maldivian government has given assurances that India's interests would be protected, the sources said, adding however that "nothing can be ruled out" considering the fact that small sections are raising anti-India sentiments.

With regard to the GMR controversy, the meeting decided that the outcome of the legal process underway should be awaited, the sources said.

The case related to cancellation of GMR's contract will be heard tomorrow in a court in Singapore, they said. The option of legal action in Singapore is provided in the contract GMR had signed with the Maldivian government which is being invoked, they said.

Referring to the Airport Development Charge of USD 25 per internationally departing passenger, the apparent reason for cancellation of the contract, the sources said the provision was part of the international tender quoted by the Maldivian government under the auspices of World Bank.

Despite that, GMR made an exception to exempt Maldivian nationals from it and it was conveyed to the Maldivian President in a letter on November 21.

India is upset that the Waheed government is not reciprocating the gestures made towards the island nation over decades, which includes military intervention to foil a coup attempt in 1988 and substantial subsequent assistance.

India is a larger donor to Maldives. India feels that the Waheed government had hurt the interests of Maldivian people itself by cancelling the contract.

PTI