NEW DELHI / CHENNAI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's charge that foreign NGOs were stoking protests at the Koodankulam nuclear plant stemmed from a Home Ministry inquiry, Government said today, as the remark triggered a row with activists spearheading the stir dismissing it as baseless.
BJP demanded that facts on the "very important" statement by Singh be made public.
The statement by Singh was endorsed by Congress which said it was given on the basis of the reports given by the intelligence agencies. "Party supports his statement", Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi said in New Delhi.
Minister for State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said three NGOs were found to be diverting foreign funds for the anti- nuclear campaign in Koodankulam and their licences cancelled.
The cancellation followed a Home Ministry inquiry that the NGOs were using funds meant for social causes to fuel the protests, he said.
BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley asked the government to make public its stand on the Indo-Russian joint venture in Tamil Nadu.
"It is a very important statement that the Prime Minister has made.
Therefore, since he has made a statement, I think the government must make facts in regard to this public so that the veracity of all this is known to people of India who are in a position then to decide what is the correct position," Jaitley said.
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) spearheading the stir against Koodankulam rejected as baseless Singh's remark. The commissioning of the plant in Tirunelveli district has been stalled due to the protests.
"It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister has made the allegations without any documentary proof. We strongly deny his observation that the agitation is being funded by other countries," S P Udayakumar told reporters in Chennai.
Former Atomic Energy Commission Chief Dr Anil Kakodkar shared Singh's sentiments, saying "a nuclear power plant cannot be put under a siege the way it has happened now."
The Prime Minister in an interview to the "Science" journal criticised non-governmental organisations that received support from abroad for leading protests against the nuclear plant.
"There are NGO's often funded from the United states and Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces," Singh said.
Then, referring to the protests at Koodankulam, he said, "the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don't appreciate need for our country to increase the energy supply."
Narayanasamy said the government had taken action after it found that some NGOs, receiving funds from the US and Scandinivian countries, were spending huge amounts of money on the agitation.
"These NGOs were receiving funds from foreign countries for social service causes like helping the physically handicapped and eradication of leprosy but these were used for anti-nuclear protests," he told PTI.
"In fact, the people who are agitating near the plant have been continuing their agitation for the past three months. People are being brought there in trucks from various villages, they are being given food," he said.
Narayanasamy said three NGOs were found to be violating the FCRA guidelines by not using the funds for the cause they were received for.
He said the Prime Minister's observation on anti-nuclear activists using foreign funds came from the inquiry.
Udayakumar demanded that Singh provide documentary proof in support of his allegation or withdraw his remarks.
Kakodkar said it is strange that a large project ready for implementation which has met all safety requirements, even environmental and when there is tremendous shortage of electricity the country's developmetn should become "hostage" to such foreign forces.
"By just exploiting the Fukushima sentiment this entire thing has been built up," he said, adding " a nuclear power plant cannot be put under a siege the way it has happened now."
CPI leader D Raja alleged that the prime minister was trying to isolate some of the worker NGOs who are working among the local people in Koodankulam.