The Maldives government is set to lease two large plots of land from Thilafushi, an industrial island located near the capital city of Male', to two Indian companies. The Housing Development Corporation (HDC), which oversees Thilafushi, recently changed regulations to allow land to be leased to foreign parties for up to 99 years, following a request from the President's Office.
The exact size of the land being acquired is yet to be determined, but sources within HDC have stated that it will be a significant area. The Indian companies are proposing to develop the land and then sublease it to other parties.
One of the reasons for leasing the lands is to raise funds to pay the equity of a loan required to reclaim more land in Thilafushi. However, sources have expressed concern that leasing the lands to foreign companies will have a negative impact on local businesses, particularly those in the industrial and logistical sectors. The official stated that Thilafushi lands will be of high value in the future as the port is being developed there and this compromise could affect the economic future of the country.
The HDC's base rate for per square foot of land is MVR 1700 (USD 110), which some consider to be a low starting point for the bidding process, given the future value of the land after the port's development.
It is worth noting that a private Indian company had previously attempted to acquire land from L. Gan, the largest island in the Maldives, but the island council rejected the proposal.
India has been increasing its military and civilian presence in the Maldives since the presidency of Ibrahim Mohammed Solih. Currently, the Indian military has a presence in strategic locations across the Maldives, and they are also developing a military base on an island near Male'.
This latest development raises questions about the potential impact on the Maldives' economy and sovereignty. The public will be closely monitoring the outcome of this decision and its consequences.