An Indian newspaper, the Deccan Herald, has described Uthuru Thila Falhu as a "strategic asset for India".
The agreement to "develop, maintain, and support" a Coast Guard Harbour at Uthuru Thila Falhu was signed yesterday between the Maldives and India. The agreement was signed on behalf of India by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subramaniam Jaishankar, during his visit to the Maldives. Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi signed on behalf of the Maldivian government.
The Deccan Herald wrote that although UTF's Harbour and Dockyard was under the official control of the Maldives National Defence Force, it was very likely that the location would become a strategic asset for India. The Herald also believed that UTF would be instrumental to barring China from gaining influence in the Indian Ocean.
Conditioning anonymity, a high-ranking government official told Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal, that the agreement was worded in such a way that it permitted the permanent stationing of Indian military personnel in the Maldives. The official said that the choice of words used in the agreement was the exploitation of a loophole that bypassed the government's obligation to submit the agreement to the Majlis. By law, a foreign military presence in the Maldives can only be permitted with the unanimous approval of the Majlis.
Although the development of UTF had been decided under President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, that administration had decided to develop the location using the resources available to the State and the Maldives National Defence Force.