Greenpeace, other NGOs stance on development projects to hit economic growth: IB

PTI Posted online: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : The opposition to several development projects in the country by a significant number of Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs), including Greenpeace, will have a negative impact on economic growth by two to three per cent, warns an Intelligence Bureau report.

Greenpeace responded to the charge by saying "we believe that this (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."

The IB report 'Impact of NGOs on Development', claims the NGOs and their international donors are also planning to target many fresh economic development projects including those in Gujarat.

The report, which has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office, the Home Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Finance Minister and others, alleged the NGOs work for stalling development projects along with agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants and hydel projects.

In a section related to protests against coal mines and coal-fired power projects, the report alleged Greenpeace expanded its activities to oppose coal-fired power plants and coal mining and received Rs 45 crore from abroad in the last seven years.

"It is using foreign funds to create protest movements under 'Coal Network' umbrella at prominent coal block and coal-fired power plant locations in India," the report said.

Reacting to the charge that Greenpeace has mounted "massive efforts to take down India’s coal-fired power plants and coal mining activity", the NGO said in a statement that instead of destroying India’s forests to access coal underneath, it believes India should embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet rapidly-increasing energy needs.

"We have asked the Minister of Home Affairs to let Greenpeace see the report", the NGO said, adding "it’s only fair that we have the opportunity to address any mis-truths contained within it".

The IB report alleged while Greenpeace's efforts to put obstacles to coal-based energy plans were gaining momentum, it has also started spawning mass-based movements against development projects and is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security.

Since 2013, Greenpeace has initiated protests in five project-affected villages of Mahaan (in Madhya Pradesh) coal block allocated to Essar and Hindalco under the banner of Mahaan Sangarsh Samiti.

These NGOs' activists have been targeting coal mining companies specifically Coal India Limited, Hindalo, Aditya Birla group and Essar as they "stand in their way", the report alleged.

"To encourage Indian-ness of its anti-coal approach, Greenpeace has financed a private research institute to study health, pollution and other aspects at Mahaan and plans to use the Mahaan case as a precursor for a ban on all coal blocks," it said.

On Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), the report said six NGOs are at the forefront of anti-G.M.Food activism in India and funds for it are received mainly from Germany.

According to the report, future plans to take down fresh economic development projects include protests against palm oil imports, migration of workers to cities for construction work, campaign against disposal of e-waste generated by Information Technology companies and Par Tapi-Narmada river interlinking in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The future plans also include debunking the Gujarat model of development, Special Investment Region in Gujarat and Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, says the IB report.

Greenpeace rubbishes IB report

Greenpeace today rubbished an Intelligence Bureau report which reportedly described the NGO as "a threat to national economic security" and alleged it was an attempt to silence its voice.

"It is an attempt to silence our voice. In the past, an attempt was made to silence us but we never bowed down. We will respond when the matter comes to us...", Abhishek Pratap, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace, India, told a press conference here.

Asking the government to share the IB report with Greenpeace, he said "we believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence the civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth".

Pratap alleged the IB report has not been made in the last two weeks.

To a question that Greenpeace India is being seen as a supporter of the US against the backdrop of its backing to the agitation against Kudankulam nuclear power project being built by Russians, Pratap said there was no truth in the allegations.

"There is no iota of truth in that. We received two-thirds of our funding from India... Yes, there are individual supporters in America and Europe also... But these all are individuals," he noted.

Speaking on the occasion, Bharti Sinha, Communication Director, Greenpeace India, said the IB should have engaged with the NGO to get clarifications on its functioning.

"As far as the IB is concerned, they are doing their job...If IB had engaged with us, they would have come to a different conclusion," she said.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace India has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a copy of the IB report.