Greenpeace foreign funds blocked, govt cites ‘talks with AAP’ as a reason
The action against Greenpeace comes less than a month after the organisation won a legal battle against the government in the Priya Pillai case.(Source: Twitter)
The government suspended Thursday Greenpeace India’s licence to receive foreign donations, citing among reasons “talks” with the Aam Aadmi Party, “campaigning, protesting and lobbying against government of India’s policies”, attempts to “delay and place illegal obstructions to India’s energy plans”, an anti-nuclear “full page colour advertisement in The Hindu with a sarcasm-laced header”. It also mentioned a campaign against Indian tea which Greenpeace claimed contained hazardous pesticides.
The action against Greenpeace comes less than a month after the organisation won a legal battle against the government in the Priya Pillai case. The government’s decision to bar Pillai, a Greenpeace campaigner, from travelling abroad and issuing a look-out circular for her was quashed by the Delhi High Court.
The order issued Thursday by the Home Ministry said Greenpeace’s registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), which enabled it to receive funds from foreign countries, was being suspended for a period of 180 days with immediate effect. It also asked Greenpeace to explain, within 30 days, why its FCRA registration should not be cancelled.
“… the Central government, having regard to the information and evidence in its possession, is satisfied that the acceptance of foreign contribution by the said association (Greenpeace) has prejudicially affected the the public interest” and “economic interest” of the state “which violates conditions of grant of certificate of registration (under FCRA),” the order said.
Greenpeace, which called the government action a “smear” campaign, said majority funds are raised from within India and it is still entitled to do so.
“Greenpeace India has so far received no official communication from the MHA. It is seeking legal counsel on the information that is available on the MHA website. This is a smear, pure and simple… A campaign is being waged against dissent, but we will not be cowed,” Samit Aich,Greenpeace India executive director, said.
The Home Ministry orders is backed by a 50-page assessment report, prepared after an “on-site inspection” of Greenpeace accounts and records in September last year, and includes detailed inputs from intelligence agencies.
Amongst the several charges brought out in that report is one that blames Greenpeace for indulging in political activities, specifically that one of its campaigners had contested an election as an AAP candidate.
“Greenpeace was also in talks with Aam Aadmi Party, and declared Greenpeace consultant, Pankaj Singh, as the AAP candidate from Mahaan for the Sidhi Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh. He subsequently resigned from Greenpeace and joined AAP for the elections. However, latest information indicates that he is again active in Greenpeace activity in Madhya Pradesh,” the report stated.
Among other things that upset the government was the nature of Greenpeace campaigns. “The association (Greenpeace) is against coal-mining, nuclear power plants, thermal power plants, genetically modified foods etc. Foreign donors have been pumping foreign donations for protesting and creating hurdles in the way of progress of our nation… the nature of the association is anti-development activities,” the report stated.
The government was especially annoyed by a Greenpeace advertisement in The Hindu on August 15, 2012 that carried a picture of anti-nuclear protests in Kudankulam with a caption “Can you spot the Foreign Hand in this picture?” The advertisement asked people to support the campaign against any dilution of the Civil Nuclear Liability Act, which was then being debated.
“The advertisement attempts to create fear in readers’ minds by implying the inevitability of a reactor meltdown and makes a strong pitch against India’s stand on the nuclear liability clause… Given the large amount of foreign funding it receives, it will be difficult for Greenpeace to link all aspects of its anti-nuclear activism to Indian donations only,” it stated.
Amongst the charges in the dossier against Greenpeace are:
* Transferred money from FCRA designated account to FCRA utilisation account, and from there to five other bank accounts, in violation of FCRA rules.
* Attempt to make NTPC prime target of public protests in a campaign to take down 455 proposed thermal plants.
* At a conference in Istanbul in 2012, directed Indian activists to encourage “people-centric protests” to stop new coal blocks/plants and to retire existing coal plants.
* Campaign against Indian tea, which Greenpeace claimed contained hazardous pesticides.
* Involvement of 13 foreign activists in its campaigns.
* Underreported and repeatedly mentioned incorrect amounts of foreign donation.
* Incurred more than 50 per cent of the foreign contribution on administrative expenditure during financial year 2011-12 and 2012-13.
* Invited two UK journalists to make documentary on Mahan forests in MP. Film shot by an unmanned aerial vehicle, against the rules.
* Hired a consultant and paid him Rs 4.48 lakh “which appears to be very exorbitant”.
Source:: Indian Express