Maldives takes over airport, to retain all staff, including Indians
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The Maldivian government has offered to retain all employees at Malé airport, which it took over after a hotly contested legal battle with Indian infrastructure major GMR, including the 105 Indians working at the facility. The peaceful transfer took place on Friday.
It has offered that the employees, numbering over 1,700, will be retained at their current salaries, positions and terms and conditions by the Maldives Airports Company Limited. A government spokesperson confirmed this, negating earlier reports that the work permits of Indians would be revoked by Malé.
Earlier, Maldives had revoked a 25-year-lease granted to GMR to run the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport, a decision backed by the Singapore Court of Appeal. It had sparked a diplomatic row, with India warning Maldives that bilateral relations could be harmed if the legal process was not followed.
The Mohamed Waheed-led government has worked out a three-week-transition period to take complete control of the facility from GMR, and assured the security of Indian employees.
GMR also issued a statement saying it would facilitate a "smooth takeover". "GMIAL (the consortium that had won the contract) has been assured that as a result of this takeover all its employees, suppliers and other interested parties will not be put to any inconvenience," the statement read.
Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party that is led by former president Mohamed Nasheed marched in protest in Malé against the government decision to cancel the contract.