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.
The official said the Conference had resolved to focus on the Singrauli region in India.
CWF, which was recently put on MHA's watch list, had since then donated Rs.1.4 crore to Greenpeace India.
“As a follow-up, Greenpeace came up with a three-pronged strategy: to create a network of anti-coal protest movements, target coal block allocations with regulators and in courts/tribunals; and campaign among domestic/foreign investors against Coal India Limited,” the official alleged.
While 15 foreign funding agencies have been put on the MHA’s “prior approval” list, mandating the Ministry's clearance on each contribution from them, as many as 188 NGOs operating in the country are also under the scanner.