EC permits Finmin to announce Rs 7,000 cr projects

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission (EC) has given a special permission to the ministry of finance to announce four infrastructure projects worth Rs 7,000 crore even while the general elections are on.

The permission has, however, come with a rider that no politician would be allowed to announce any one of those projects, sources close to the development told SundayET. The projects, which are funded by Japan's official development assistance (ODA), will benefit states of Delhi, Karnataka, Assam and Kerala. Whereas Delhi and Assam are Congress-ruled states, Karnataka and Kerala are ruled by the BJP and the Left respectively.

SundayET has learnt that the projects include the Rs 4,100 cr Delhi Metro (phase-2), a Rs 1,500 crore Guwahati water supply project, a Rs 910 crore Hogenakkal water supply and irrigation project (Phase - 2) and a Rs 680 crore Kerala water supply project.

"Initially, it was planned that political leaders would also be present during the function as some they were considered to be important projects, but the EC has made it clear that it won't allow any politician to take part in that function," a Finmin official, who did not want to be identified, said.

All the projects will now be jointly announced by the ambassador of Japan to India Hideaki Domichi and joint secretary of department of economic affairs (DEA) Kumar Sanjay Krishna, in New Delhi next week. There will be a formal signing ceremony as well, as projects are funded by another country.

Former industry secretary Ajay Dua told SundayET that he was not surprised by the fact that EC had given permission to formally launch a few projects during the poll process. "The government does not come to a halt during an election process. There could be new projects where commitment of fund must have come from external aid agencies or financial institutions. Those are not today's projects, but they were on the cards for quite sometime. But those can't wait for various reasons. Prior permission from EC ensures that the announcement cannot sway the voters as it's election time," he said.