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Jairam Ramesh supports Greenpeace, says its job as a protester is to protest and the job of government is to govern

By ET Bureau | 13 Jun, 2014, 07.52AM IST

The former environment minister, whose own experience with the Greenpeace has not been the best, came out in support of the activist group.The former environment minister, whose own experience with the has not been the best, came out in support of the activist group.
ET SPECIAL:
NEW DELHI: Greenpeace has found an unexpected supporter in Jairam Ramesh. The former environment minister, whose own experience with the Greenpeace has not been the best, came out in support of the activist group in the context of an Intelligence Bureau report stating that its activities were a threat to the country’s economic growth.

“I have no love lost for Greenpeace,” Ramesh said while referring to his own experience with the organisation, “but shunning Greenpeace does no credit to us as an open and liberal democracy”. The former minister who was addressing a programme on “greening India’s growth”, jointly organised by think-tank ICRIER, World Bank and the Global Green Growth Institute. “Having contradictions, complexities and conflicts are essential elements of economic growth and democracy,” he said.

The Intelligence Bureau report, ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’, makes the case that non-governmental organisations and their international donors are planning to target many fresh economic development projects including those in Gujarat.

Correcting the impression that Greenpeace was an internationally funded outfit, Ramesh said: “Greenpeace has a domestic funding largely. A large number of local philanthropists have funded Greenpeace.”

Ramesh said Greenpeace had made “his life miserable” when he was conducting the public consultation on Bt Brinjal and later when the group took out an advertisement charging him with caring more for Tata than the Olive Ridley turtles. He said the government cannot ask NGOs to stop their protest because their job as a protester is to protest, while the job of a government is to govern.

On Wednesday, Greenpeace had responded saying that the IB report “is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”

Greenpeace spokesperson Abhishek Pratap had stressed that the organisation’s motto “is to intimate the government that there exists a serious need to address sustainability of energy delivery system in the country. India is building coal-based electricity but 30 crore people have no electricity.”

Ramesh said making choices for achieving balanced growth was not easy. India added 65,000 megawatt of power capacity in the past five years. “Nuclear power generation is only 3% of supply, while supply from renewable sources is going to take some time and hydel power has its own set of problems… In short to mid-term, India has to depend on low quality coal for power. “Most of coal reserves are in forests areas of Odisha and Jharkhand,” he said. “In such situation, how do we make choices?”

Ramesh said he hoped that the controversy “will settle down and I hope both sides will talk to each other and not talk at each other”. He said restoring the lagging economy should be a priority but India cannot afford to adopt “a model of grow now and pay later”.

He suggested that while making efforts to restore India’s economy, steps should also be taken to achieve green growth with a focus on sectors such as energy, transport, manufacturing, building and construction. “The real challenge ahead would be making technological and investment choices to balance economic growth and environment sustainability

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