Days after Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London in January this year, where she was to address UK parliamentarians, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) put at least 14 foreign donors under the “prior approval” category.
A senior government official said the 14 foreign donors were placed under this category amid allegations that the funds sent by them were being used for “anti-India” activities and they had also diverted funds to Greenpeace India.
Prior approval means that these organisations will have to seek MHA’s clearance before transferring money to any account in India. Earlier it could be done directly to the concerned account, simply by following Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act (FCRA) norms.
The 14 foreign donors who have been put under this category are: Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA); Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR); Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aids (CORDAID); Dan Church Aid (DCA); Mercy Corps, USA; Inter Church Peace Council-Pax Christi (IKV-PC) Netherlands; HIVOS Netherlands; ICCO Stretegische Samenwerking (ICCO), Netherlands; Greenpeace International; Climate Work Foundation (CWF), USA; 350.Org; BIC, USA; Avaaz, USA and Sierra Club USA. All these organisations either work in the field of climate change, coal activism or human rights issues. DANIDA is the humanitarian aid wing of the foreign ministry of Denmark.
When contacted, Greenpeace India denied the claims and said that besides Climate Work Foundation and Greenpeace International they had not received any money from any other donor specified above. Samit Aich, Executive Director, Greenpeace India said in an e-mail: “Greenpeace India has not received any foreign contributions other than from Climate Work and Greenpeace International.
The allegation that Greenpeace India is receiving money from any other organisation or entity listed is entirely false and the claim is mala fide and defamatory in intent. We would also like to bring to your attention the fact that the Delhi High Court ruled in January that the MHA’s action of stopping Greenpeace India from receiving money from Greenpeace International was arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional. The honorable judge also noted that the MHA had failed to put any material on record against Greenpeace International.”
The government issued a Lookout Circular against Pillai on January 9, a couple of days before she was to take a flight to London to address UK parliamentarians on the Mahan coal block issue.
On January 15, MHA asked the RBI to issue guidelines to all banks to inform the government about any donations from these agencies. While CORDAID and Greenpeace were named in a report prepared by the Intelligence Bureau to establish that the former were stalling developmental projects in India by funding protests and agitations.