India on Thursday formally handed over a ₹100-crore patrol vessel to Seychelles, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Indian Ocean archipelago is central to New Delhi’s vision for security and development in the region.
Besides the donation of the PS Zoroaster to the Seychelles Coast Guard, Modi and President Wavel Ramkalawan inaugurated the new magistrates’ court building in Mahé constructed with a $3.5-million grant, a 1 MW solar power plant built at a cost of $3.4 million, and 10 community development projects during a virtual event.
India has been working closely with countries in the Indian Ocean, especially the Maldives and Seychelles, to bolster maritime security through the supply of aircraft and patrol vessels. The PS Zoroaster is the fourth made-in-India patrol boat to be gifted to Seychelles since 2005, and more than 50% of Seychelles’ maritime and air assets have been provided by India.
The 48.9-metre patrol boat was built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineering at a cost of ₹100 crore and has a top speed of 35 knots and an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles. The vessel will be used for multi-purpose operations, such as patrolling, anti-smuggling and anti-poaching operations, and search and rescue.
“India is committed to strengthening the maritime security of Seychelles…This vessel will help Seychelles to protect its maritime resources,” Modi said at the virtual event.
Seychelles, he added, is central to India’s vision of “SAGAR” or “Security and Growth for All in the Region”, and India will help develop the archipelago’s security capabilities and meet its infrastructural and developmental needs.
Ramkalawan, who has his roots in Gopalganj district of Bihar, said the vessel will play a key role in counter-narcotics operations within Seychelles’ vast maritime zone and contribute to regional stability and security.
“In India, we have a reliable and trusted partner. India has never failed us, India stands by us and Seychelles stands by India,” Ramkalawan said, adding that India’s “precious donation” of 50,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines had helped his country in moving towards the goals of achieving 70% herd immunity by the end of April and opening up the economy.
The magistrates’ court building brings together several courts that were spread over Mahé and is located next to the Supreme Court of Seychelles, built with Chinese assistance in 2013. This is the first India-backed construction project in the archipelago and was completed amid the pandemic.
The building has eight courtrooms, separate holding cells for men, women and children, and multi-functional conference rooms and video rooms.
India has so far taken up 29 small people-oriented development projects in Seychelles, while the 1MW solar project was built in addition to installing solar systems at 146 government buildings and domestic households. The solar plant will meet the electricity needs of around 400 houses round the year.
The virtual event was the first interaction between Modi and Ramkalawan, who came to power in the October 2020 elections. Seychelles was the first destination in Modi’s tour of Indian Ocean countries in 2015. It was during this tour that Modi had unveiled the “SAGAR” vision.