NEW DELHI: The Intelligence Bureau (IB) report claiming foreign-funded NGOs acted in concert to fuel agitations against nuclear and coal-based power projects is the result of a probe initiated by UPA into the protests against Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
Though submitted on June 3, shortly after theNarendra Modi government assumed office, the IB probe into the NGOs began when protests against the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear plant were at their height in 2012.
The UPA government had, on the basis of local reports, suspected that foreign funds were being channelled into whipping up the stir against the operationalisation of two 1,000 mw reactors in the wake of the March 2011Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The home ministry had then suspected a diversion of foreign donations to sustain an agitation led by anti-nuclear NGOs that had allied with church groups to rally the local fishing community against the power plant.
Sources in intelligence agencies indicated the investigation into possible foreign fundingbehind the anti-Kudankulam stir, spearheaded by S P Udayakumar-led People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), began during P Chidambaram’s tenure in the Union home ministry.
Udayakumar contested the recent Lok Sabha election from Kanyakumari as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate and finished sixth with 15,000-odd votes.
With time, the scope of the study was widened to cover agitations against coal-fired projects, genetically modified food and extractive industries in other parts of the country.
The IB report, which has NGOs and environmentalists up in arms, has led the home ministry to mull sending a questionnaire on precise use of foreign donations to the FCRA-registered organisations named in the report.
The questionnaire, which could lead to a formal enquiry, will ask NGOs to come clean on whether they foreign contributions meant for health and education programmes were utilised in line with stated objectives of the associations.
As the IB report attracts brickbats from concerned NGOs, certain aspects of the document have raised eyebrows within the intelligence establishment. Questions are being asked about the timing and intent of the report, and why officials who prepared it chose to put their name on it, deviating from the usual practice of keeping “unofficial” reports (UO in intel parlance) anonymous.
IB insiders are also sceptical about the veracity of some of the claims, considering that sections of it appear to have been lifted from other reports and even a 2006 speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Even the assessment that the activism of foreign-funded NGOs, “serving as tools for strategic foreign policy interests of western governments” had negatively impacted India’sGDP growth by 2-3% seems a stretch, as IB has no independent mechanism for arriving at such an estimate.
In fact, the report and the media hype around it has led some officials to wonder if it was just an attempt by a section of officers to please the new political dispensation by tapping into its known reservations against NGOs.
- Notable Personality