Photo Credit: Arko Datta/Reuters
While the government notification claimed that the environmental NGO’s registration had been cancelled because Geenpeace had “prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state”, a Home Ministry report prepared in September lists causes that are far less threatening, if at all. Some of them are so trivial, in fact, that they border on the absurd. The report had been prepared after an inspection of Greenpeace’s accounts and records. Here are some highlights.
The report sharply critiqued a Greenpeace ad which attacked the low financial limits in India’s nuclear liability clause.
“On August 14, 2012, Greenpeace posted a full-page colour advertisement in The Hindu, with a sarcasm-laced header, ‘Can you spot the foreign hand in this picture?’ and equally sarcastic content on the foreign hand being present in ‘the air-conditioned offices in New Delhi, carpeted wall-to-wall with nuclear industry lobbyists.”
Drinking water stops national progress
The report accused Greenpeace of placing “illegal obstructions to India’s energy plans” and “creating hurdles in the way of progress of our nation”.
One of the Greenpeace activities which the government produced to back up this claim is as follows:
“Mobilisation of over 2,55,000 people from drought-affected areas to stop diversion of water from agriculture and drinking.”
This demand, that water not be diverted from a drought-affected area and be used for drinking purposes instead, violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, alleged the report.
Activism as a crime
On page 5 of the report, the Home Ministry lays out the following charge:
“Funding and creating activism and protests in areas where none existed, e.g.: in the villages of Mahan Coal Block by locating an office in the area and deploying GIS [Greenpeace] employees at the location, who spent all their time and GIS resources in spreading misinformation amongst villagers.”
What “misinformation” was spread is never spelt out. The NGO had been mobilising residents of the Mahan forest against a mining project that would have a detrimental effect on local communities. The project had been initially allocated to the Essar group. But the allocation was cancelled last year by the Supreme Court, along with 200 other coal mines, following which the government had initiated auctions of the mines. Eventually, the government decided not to put the coal mine up for auction as the project had not received environmental approvals.