Assumption Island Current Affairs - 2019
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Seychelles President Danny Faure ahead of his state visit to India has said that India-Seychelles joint project to develop naval base at Assumption Island in his country will not move forward. He also mentioned that Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own. This statement comes after growing political opposition in Seychelles to agreement that was signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at Assumption Island which would have given India strategic advantage in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as naval base due to key strategic location in the western periphery of Indian Ocean and to expand its footprint in the region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence. For this, India had signed 20 years agreement in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to that Seychelles. It was meant to India’s first Naval Base project overseas and had acquired significance after China had acquired its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014. However, after opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against agreement with India, Seychelles President refused to place in Seychelles National Assembly (its parliament) since he didn’t have majority. Later in January 2018, India and Seychelles finalised an updated version of the original pact to accommodate lot of concerns of Seychelles side.
Assumption Island is a small island situated southwest of Seychelles main and largest island of Mahe. It is situated very close to Mozambique Channel from where much Indian Ocean maritime routes pass. Its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel.
Seychelles government allowed India to build its first Naval Base on the Assumption Island in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) as a joint project between both countries.
In this regard, Seychelles government has allocated a plot of land on in its Assumption Island which will help to enhance mutual security along our western seaboard in IOR.
India’s first Naval Base project has acquired significance following China acquiring its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014.
- On completion, the naval base would be used by the defence forces both countries. It would help India to exercise greater control over the strategic western region of IOR to the piracy-prone eastern African coastline that commands vital energy (oil) sea transport lines.
- This naval base will be staging posts for a large maritime security network that India is setting up with the help of the various IOR partner countries.
- From March 2016, India is also set to acquire a fully operational coastal radar system (CRS) in Seychelles. It would further enhance India’s ability to gather intelligence and assist in surveillance operations in IOR especially vital energy lanes near Seychelles.
- India is also steadily increasing its maritime and security cooperation with Seychelles. It is also providing new patrol vessels to Seychelles in mid-January 2016.
- Security operation in the IOR also has helped Seychelles to secure itself in the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which will hold its first meeting in Mumbai (Maharashtra) in January, 2016.