Greenpeace India, which is on the verge of closing down after the central government blocked its domestic accounts, is planning to appeal to the judiciary for relief. On Tuesday, the NGO told its employees that the threat of an imminent shutdown is looming large as it “has been left with cash reserves for salaries and office costs for just about a month”.
“On 9 April, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) blocked our domestic accounts due to absurd technicalities, which we are challenging in the court. Over 68 percent of our funds come from more than 77,000 Indians. These funds have been frozen and our work to protect India’s environment and people is being forced to stop. We are in discussion with lawyers on our line of defence,” Greenpeace India Executive Director Samit Aich told
The organisation, however, is worried about the cost of the legal process and what to do next if it stretches beyond 1 June. It would run out of funds by then. The NGO has less than a month to make a representation to the ministry against the order.
Following allegations of violating Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and “prejudicially” affecting the public as well as economic interests of the country in “violation of Section 12(4)(f)(iii) and Section 12(4)(f)(ii) of the FCRA 2010”, the MHA suspended Greenpeace India’s licence and bank accounts for six months on April 9. In a fresh notice, the MHA has asked it as to why its registration should not be cancelled permanently.
Greenpeace India asked the MHA to recognize the impact of its decision. “The Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) is trying to strangle us by stealth, because he knows an outright ban is unconstitutional. We ask him to confirm that he is trying to close Greenpeace India and suppress our voice. His arbitrary attack could set a very dangerous precedent. Every Indian civil society group is now on the chopping block,” said Aich.
Expressing her concern, Priya Pillai, Greenpeace India campaigner whose overseas travel ban was overturned by the Delhi High Court in March, says it is not only the question of livelihood of 340 employees but also a matter of sudden death for campaigns which “represent the voice of the poor on issues of clean and affordable energy, environmental justice and sustainable development”.
“Why is the government attacking us? Is it for raising voice against pesticides, pollution and working to ensure people get clean energy? Is it irked because we campaigned against the Mahan Coal Mining Project in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district?” she asked.
Around 5,00,000 trees spread over 1,000 hectares of land was to be chopped off in the mining project allocated to a joint venture of Essar power and Hindalco industries in 2006. After the NGO along with locals campaigned against the project, the Supreme Court cancelled the coal block allocation.
“The MHA has gone too far by blocking our domestic bank accounts, which are funded by individual Indian citizens. We have over 70 percent domestic funders. There is a clear message behind the action – you have no right to dissent and criticise. If Greenpeace India is first, who is next?” she further asked.
After the allegation of FCRA violation, a string of penalties was imposed by the MHA on Greenpeace India but all of them were overturned by the Delhi High Court, she said.
cerdit : fistpost