NEW DELHI:Months before Tamil Nadu’s crackdown on Greenpeace, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in September had cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of Greenpeace India. It was alleged that the NGO misused foreign funding for political activities which prejudicially affected the country’s public and economic interests.
The Home Ministry Dossier on ‘Greenpeace Activities’ with Express said that NGO was found violating the FCRA by engaging in political activities to influence and lobby for the formulation of policies of its liking. “Not only Greenpeace activists are involved in agitation, they also invited foreign activists like Emma Rachel Tranquility Gibson (UK national) for handling conflict / team dynamics, prioritisation and difficult decisions and her given task was ‘Election Project’ as mentioned in the terms of reference of her job,” the MHA dossier said, adding that in contravention of Section 3 (1) (a) of FCRA 2010, Greenpeace was also in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and had declared Greenpeace consultant Pankaj Singh as the AAP candidate from Mahaan for Sidhi Lok Sabha constituency in MP.
“He subsequently resigned from Greenpeace and joined AAP for the elections. However, latest information indicates that he is again active in Greenpeace activity in MP and is also campaigning for AAP in Delhi,” the dossier said.
It added that Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) projected by Greenpeace as a people’s movement was in fact a front entity in order to develop deniability.
“There were a series of protests and activities led by these activists in that area (Mahaan, Singarauli, MP) which led to rising level of farmers protests. All these activities were funded through the FCRA route by Greenpeace foreign donors,” the dossier said.
The MHA had pointed out that Greenpeace incurred more than 50 per cent of the foreign contribution on administrative expenditure during 2011-12 and 2012-2013 without obtaining the prior approval of the Central Government, in violation of FCRA, which was also substantiated by the notice issued by the Income Tax Department and a subsequent payment of Rs 62.12 lakh by Greenpeace.
The dossier said the NGO had funded legal costs, not only for seeking bail, but also for filing writ petitions of an associated Indian NGO and activists of the association, violating Section 8 (1) (a) of FCRA.
“Association has admitted before the Income Tax Department and as proved through the bank account scrutiny during inspection that in the financial year 2010-11, Greenpeace India Society paid Rs 8,05,027 to the employee of Greenpeace Environment Trust which is a separate trust with a different PAN number.”
It said the “most glaring example being FC opening balance for 2008-2009 which was reported as NIL in the Auditor’s certificate but was actually Rs 6 crore 60 lakh. Subsequently Greenpeace India Society admitted the same and claimed it to be a typographical error.”
An on-site inspection of the NGO’s accounts and records conducted on September 24 to September 27, 2014 found that Greenpeace first transferred foreign contribution received in FCRA designated bank account to FCRA utilisation account and from there to five other bank accounts without informing the authority concerned. The NGO also shifted its office and activities from Chennai to Bengaluru without approval /intimation of the Ministry. It claimed that Greenpeace was also involved in international negative campaign against India’s most popular tea brands to reduce India’s export by publicising questionable forensic tests in an undisclosed foreign lab.
“ On October 27-28, 2013, Greenpeace India also invited a 10-member team of international activists (1 US and 9 Bangladesh nationals, nine being on tourist visa) to visit three coal block locations, Waidhan and Mudwani (Baiga Basti) in district Singrauli and Amelia to conduct an environmental study on coal blocks allocated to power plants in the district. The team also attended a meeting organised by a NTPC plant employee, Shyam Kishore......all the payments in respect of boarding and lodging were made by Greenpeace India.”
Timeline of trouble
April 9, 2015: Centre freezes Greenpeace India’s seven bank accounts over FCRA violation
May 5: Greenpeace India’s executive director Samit Aich tells staffers that they have one month left to fight; face imminent shut down
May 27: Delhi HC allows Greenpeace to utilise two accounts for collecting donations
May 28: District Registrar, Chennai, sends notice on inspection of Greenpeace India office in Chennai by Sub-Registrar (Chit & Society)
June 3: Sub-Registrar (Chit & Society) inspects Greenpeace office
June 16: Showcause notice sent by District Registrar on several irregularities and violations found during inspection
August 4: HC directs District Registrar to allow petitioner to peruse documents that RoS based its allegations on
October 5: Greenpeace sends extensive rebuttal through its counsel
November 4: District Registrar passes order cancelling Greenpeace India’s registration