India Suspends Greenpeace Licence, Freezes Bank Acounts

  • Date: 10/04/15
  • Devesh Pandey, The Hindu

The Indian Government has frozen Greenpeace India’s bank accounts and suspended its registration. The order comes against the backdrop of government reports raising concerns that the United Kingdom has been showing interest in the organisation’s India operations.

Greenpeace India nad villagers gather on the fringes of the Mahan forest during a protest against a coal mining project in Singrauli district, Madhya Pradesh in this February 27, 2014 photo.

Greenpeace India and villagers gather on the fringes of the Mahan forest during a protest against a coal mining project in Singrauli district, Madhya Pradesh in this February 27, 2014 photo Reuters.

Citing various grounds for the suspension of the FCRA registration of Greenpeace India and the freezing of its accounts, the Union Home Ministry on Thursday alleged the organisation did not inform the authorities concerned about transfer of foreign contributions received in the designated account to the FCRA utilisation account and then to five other accounts.

The seven accounts in IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank have been frozen with immediate effect.

Listing the alleged violations, the order said the NGO under-reported and repeatedly mentioned incorrect amount of foreign contributions. It’s foreign account opening balance for 2008-09, which was actually over Rs.6.6 crore, was reported nil in the auditor’s certificate. Greenpeace India had later described it as a typographical error.

The MHA also charged the NGO with incurring over 50 per cent of foreign donations on administrative expenditure during 2011-12 and 2012-13 without prior approval; and willfully suppressing details on salary payment by Greenpeace International to “Greenpeace activist” Greg Muttitt, who worked on secondment with Greenpeace India for over five months in 2013-14.

Economic interest hurt

Stating that acceptance of foreign contributions by Greenpeace India has prejudicially affected the public and the economic interest of the country in violation of the Section 12 (4)(f)(iii) and Section 12(4)(f)(ii) of the FCRA, the government said the act also amounted to violation of the conditions of grant of registration certificate.

Accordingly, the Central government has suspended the registration of the organisation, including its branches and units, under the FCRA, for six months beginning Thursday. The organisation can make a representation in this regard within 30 days.

The order comes against the backdrop of MHA reports raising concerns that the United Kingdom has been showing interest in the organisation’s India operations. “The UK Parliament had invited Greenpeace India to ‘testify’ against the Indian government in a formal hearing. A UK-based TV channel had also sought to internationalise related issues last year,” said an MHA official.

The government also took exception to Greenpeace India’s participation at the Istanbul Coal Strategy Conference-2012. “At the Istanbul Conference, US-based funding agencies projected India as the primary target for thermal power plant activism,” said the official.

Sponsored by US-based Climate Works Foundation (CWF) and World Resources Institute, the Conference had identified 999 thermal power plant sites in the world, of which about half were in India.

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