This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Greenpeace and coal plants
`Anti-coal stir picked up after Turkey meet'
Deeptiman Tiwary New Delhi: TNN
The Times of India Jun 14 2014
A leaked Intelligence Bureau report on NGOs has detailed how Greenpeace sent its activists to Istanbul for a coal conference where an elaborate plan to “stop new coal build (plant) and to retire existing coal plants“ was mooted.
According to the report, though Greenpeace had begun expanding its anti-CFPP (coal fired power plant) activity in 2010-11, the real push came following the Istanbul conference held in July 2012.
The report said, “Starting 2012, Greenpeace activists have been financed to attend international coal conferences, such as the Istanbul Coal Strategy Conference (July 2012). This conference was held to discuss `people-centric' protests in order `to stop new coal build (plant) and to retire existing coal plants'.“
The report said at the conference, the US-based Climate Works Foundation presented a paper that highlighted India as the primary target for CFPP activism.
June 2014: foreign funds of Greenpeace India restricted
Unblock foreign funds of Greenpeace India: HC to govt
PTI | Jan 20, 2015
June 13, 2014: Foreign aid to Greenpeace India subjected to prior permission
The MHA directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take prior permission of the ministry's FCRA department before clearing any foreign aid to 'Greenpeace' from Greenpeace International and Climate Works.
This directive, issued on June 13, put on hold direct funding of the NGO from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-to-case basis by the RBI.
January 2015: HC’s orders
A petition was filed by GPIS alleging that the government had taken action "without any rhyme or reason and without complying with the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)".
On Jan 19, 2015, Delhi high court directed the government to "unblock" foreign contributions to the tune of Rs 1.87 crore received by controversial NGO 'Greenpeace' from its Amsterdam headquarters, saying the ministry showed "no material to restrict access" to the foreign fund. Meanwhile, the court said the government was free to take action against GPIS in future if it found violation of FCRA norms.
"According to me, there is no material on record to restrict the petitioner (Greenpeace India Society) from accessing the bank account with the IDBI bank in Chennai," Justice Rajiv Shakdher said while observing that the "amount in fixed deposited in the bank be unblocked and transferred to the NGO's account".
The court further said the inspection in the matter has already been carried out by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and they have produced no material on record against the NGO here and Greenpeace International.
"So at least at this juncture it is not good enough to hold back Greenpeace India from using their account," it said.
It observed that MHA in its reply had stated that Greenpeace India Society (GPIS) can have access to all other foreign funds except those from Greenpeace International as it has been put on a watch-list.
The court also observed that all NGOs were entitled to have their viewpoints and merely because their views are not in consonance with that of the government's, it does not mean they were acting against national interest.
2015: Greenpeace’s foreign funding frozen
Foreign funding for Greenpeace frozen
Greenpeace, earlier accused by intelligence agencies of working against India’s economic interests, was also served a notice asking why its FCRA certification should not be cancelled permanently.
In April 2015, the government choked all foreign funding to Greenpeace India by suspending its registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 for six months. The home ministry attributed its action to several discrepancies in the NGO's accounts and other FCRA violations.
Greenpeace, earlier accused by intelligence agencies of working against India's economic interests, was also served a notice asking why its FCRA certification should not be cancelled permanently. "The said association may... make a representation against the order within 30 days of its receipt," the order, issued by the home ministry's foreigners division, said.
Greenpeace responded by slamming the order as a "smear" campaign of the government and said it won't be cowed down.
The four-page government order said, "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... has prejudicially affected the public interest... and economic interest of the state... which violates the conditions for grant of certification of registration." The FCRA registration of Greenpeace India was being suspended for 180 days, the home ministry said.
Greenpeace India executive director Samit Aich claimed the suspension was part of a "smear" campaign. "All of this was put before the Delhi high court when we brought a case against the Centre, and the court decided in our favour. This feels like a revealing moment, one that says much more about the MHA than it does about Greenpeace... A campaign is being waged against dissent, but we will not be cowed down."
The NGO claimed it had 77,768 financial supporters within India, who contributed Rs 20.76 crore last fiscal. As per home ministry records, Greenpeace received Rs 53 crore in foreign contributions over the last seven years.
Aich, however, said, "Our work is supported by people of this country and 70% of Greenpeace India's funds come from Indian donors."
Earlier in 2015, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London where she was headed to brief British parliamentarians on the Mahan coal block project. A court later cancelled the lookout notice against Pillai on the basis of which she was deplaned.
The action against Greenpeace follows an on-site inspection of its accounts and records from September 24 to 27 last year. The inspection found that though foreign contributions were received by Greenpeace in its FCRA-designated bank account and duly transferred to its FCRA utilization account, they were further channeled to five other bank accounts without informing the authority concerned, in violation of FCRA rules. The banks holding these accounts — IDBI Bank, Yes Bank and ICICI Bank — have been asked to freeze them with immediate effect.
Greenpeace was found to have under-reported and repeatedly mentioned incorrect amounts of foreign contributions, in violation of Section 33 of FCRA, "the most glaring example being foreign contribution opening balance for 2008-09 which was reported as nil in the auditor's certificate but was actually Rs 6.60 crore", the home ministry said.
The suspension order faulted the NGO for shifting its office and activities from Chennai to Bengaluru and also replacing 50% or more of its executive committee members without approval or intimation of the home ministry.
Other irregularities included spending over 50% of foreign contributions on administrative expenses in 2011-12 and 2012-13, without the Centre's approval. Also, Greenpeace funded legal costs for seeking bail and filing writ petitions for an associated Indian NGO and its activists, in violation of Section 8(1)(a) of FCRA.
The order charged Greenpeace with paying Rs 8,05,027 to employees of Greenpeace Environment Trust, a separate trust with a different PAN number. Under Section 7 of FCRA, foreign contribution cannot be transferred from an FCRA-registered NGO to a non-FCRA registered one.
In addition, Greenpeace India is said to have willfully suppressed payment of 56,951 euros as annual salary by Greenpeace International to Greg Muttitt, a foreign Greenpeace activist who worked on secondment with GIS in India for five-and-a-half months.
The Intelligence Bureau has, in a set of reports on activities of foreign-funded NGOs, including Greenpeace India, alleged that they were using people-centric issues to create an environment which lent itself to stallisng development projects.
Misuse of Greenpeace funds
Greenpeace’s leaky wallet got home ministry’s goat
[http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Greenpeaces-leaky-wallet-got-home-ministrys-goat/articleshow/46884295.cms The Times of India Bharti Jain,TNN | Apr 11, 2015
NEW DELHI: The home ministry's inspection report on Greenpeace India Society cites its protest-creation activity through front organizations, expenditure on securing bail bonds for volunteers and staff without the donor's consent and the "unjustifiably large" amounts paid as salaries and consultation fees to its functionaries to allege that its "activities were neither charitable nor in line with its Articles of Association".
The report, accessed by TOI, claims that Greenpeace incurred an expenditure of Rs 25,000 in 2008-09 and Rs 55,000 in 2009-10 for securing bail bonds and payment of legal fee, apart from spending Rs 28.35 lakh in 2010-11 on financing and legal charges, without the consent of the donor as required by Section 8(1)(a) of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.
Greenpeace, on its part, countered it by stating that it had advanced money as bail bonds "to secure release of staff or volunteers who get arrested during campaigns or related non-violated direct action to highlight environmental violations". It also claimed to have obtained subsequent consent of the donor, Greenpeace International, for the expenditure.
Not satisfied with the explanation, the home ministry in its assessment noted that most of the arrests of Greenpeace volunteers were for violations of IPC, CrPC and state police Acts, and had no link to "campaigns or non-violent direct action" as stated by GIS. "This implies a consistent violation of the law and amounts to a foreign NGO funding legal costs, not only of bail, but also of writ petitions etc. of Indian NGO activists in breach of legal provisions," it pointed out.
Also rejecting the Greenpeace's clarification that it was not indulging in protest-creation by mobilizing masses for dharna/agitations but only democratically raising issues of environmental protection and tribal rights at public meetings, the home ministry said arrests made showed these were protests/agitations. "GIS activists are involved in agitations against various developmental projects by using foreign contributions ... meant for various environmental projects, and do nothing for the environment, while hurting our national interest."
Charging Greenpeace India with "payment of exorbitant fee against the spirit of a charitable institution", the home ministry report claimed that Ananthapadmanabhan, a policy advisor contracted by it from August 2008, was being paid an "exorbitant" consultancy fee of Rs 4.48 lakh per month. He was paid about Rs 39 lakh during 2008-09, but the statement of responsibilities of the society was not furnished by Greenpeace during the inspection. Also, the donor's consent was not sought for payment of this amount.
Similarly, Samit Aich, the NGO's executive director, was being paid a monthly salary of Rs 1.85 lakh, for which the consent of the donor has not been obtained either, says the report. "Apart from him, nine more employees are also receiving salary in the range of Rs 1-1.5 lakh without the consent of the donor," it added.
READ ALSO: Govt defends Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai's offloading
Greenpeace responded to the allegation on "exorbitant" salaries stating that the remuneration of Ananthapadmanabhan, an IIT graduate with extensive experience on issues of climate change, was agreed upon based on "the crucial strategic advice that he gave to GIS and that his fees was much less than market-based remuneration for other such professionals".
But the home ministry was unconvinced, and said in its assessment: "GIS is a non-profit organization and such exorbitant consultancy fee is in opposition of the spirit of FCRA, which pertains to charitable activity."
Greenpeace’s illegal drone
NGO illegally used drone to shoot documentary, says MHA
Bharti Jain,TNN | Apr 10, 2015, 01.56 AM IST
The home ministry, in its dossier detailing Greenpeace India's activities, has alleged that Channel 4 of the UK, invited by Greenpeace in July 2014 to make a documentary on displacement of tribals on account of Mahan coal project, had illegally used a drone to film the Mahan forest.
An analysis of around 700 video clips seized by Madhya Pradesh police during a raid at Greenpeace India's office in Amelia village in Singrauli district on July 29, 2014 revealed the use of a drone fitted with a high-definition camera, which could travel over a wide expanse of the Mahan forest. As per rules, a drone can only be used with permission from the defence ministry.
According to the dossier titled 'MHA Inspection of Greenpeace India Society', a copy of which is with TOI, two British journalists -- Krishnan Guru Murthy, a UK national of Indian origin, and Hugo Ward, a UK national -- arrived in Delhi on July 21 last year to shoot the documentary for Channel 4. The purpose of the film was to highlight "the miseries of displacement and loss of livelihood for tribals/villagers of the region in the name of development".
The air tickets of the two journalists were bought by Greenpeace International through its authorized booking agent in the Netherlands. Air tickets for their travel within India were paid for by Greenpeace India.
On July 29, 2014, MP police raided Greenpeace India's office in Amelia village and seized communication equipment like aerial antenna, solar battery, booster, mobiles etc. The police suspect that the seized apparatus was being used by Greenpeace activists on prohibited radio frequencies allotted to security agencies. An FIR under various Sections of IPC was registered and three Greenpeace activists arrested.
Though Greenpeace reacted with a strongly-worded press release, placing visuals of alleged police atrocities on its website, it made no mention of the action against the Channel 4 journalists.
In its charge-sheet against Greenpeace India, the home ministry alleged that its accounts were managed in a non-professional manner with significant disregard for FCRA provisions and rules. The dossier also reiterated the Intelligence Bureau's charge that Greenpeace International was promoting Greenpeace India's ground-level agitations by deploying over a dozen foreign activists (in violation of visa rules) to train, equip and guide their Indian counterparts in protest-creation.
The home ministry recalled how Greenpeace's foreign and Indian activists were working as per plans finalized at a July 2012 global conference in Turkey, to step up agitations in coal-producing regions. It blamed non-operationalization of Mahan coal block on Greenpeace's illegal campaign, aided by foreign activists, adding that this denied low-priced energy to Indian citizens.
2015: Madras HC stays cancellation of Greenpeace's FCRA licence by MHA=
The Times of India, Sep 17 2015
Madras HC stays nixing of Greenpeace's FCRA licence
The Madras HC on Wednesday stayed a Union home ministry order cancelling Greenpeace India's registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010. Justice M M Sundresh stayed the cancellation order of September 2, issued by the foreigners division of the home ministry , and issued notice to it, returnable in eight weeks.
Following the cancellation order, Greenpeace India's executive director had moved court saying that the Centre was taking recourse to “draconian and unconstitutional“ provisions of FCRA after having been “thwarted in its earlier misadventures“. Greenpeace has already fought several rounds of litigation, including one where it won an order permitting it to access its domestic funds, on the ground that these were beyond the scope of FCRA.
The MHA had cited nine grounds to cancel Greenpeace's FCRA licence, including that the NGO transferred foreign contributions worth Rs 8.05 lakh in 2010-11 to employees of Greenpeace Environment Trust in violation of rules. The NGO said no such transfer was made in violation of law. The Centre also claimed Greenpeace utilized more than 50% of foreign funds in 2011-12 and 2012-13 for administrative expenditure, also prohibited by Section 8(1)(b) of FCRA. The petition said this too was a false charge.
High Court: Domestic donations permitted
Court allows Greenpeace India to accept domestic donations
The Times of India Vishwa Mohan,TNN | May 27, 2015
In a big relief to the Greenpeace India, the Delhi high court in May 2015 permitted it to use its two domestic accounts to receive fresh domestic donations.
The court also pulled up banks for not following its earlier direction to allow the Greenpeace India to access its account.
It also allowed the NGO, whose seven accounts were frozen by the home ministry for alleged violation of the FCRA rules on April 9, to liquidate its fixed deposits.
Look out circulars:India for the Priya Pillai case