Govt cancels Greenpeace India's FCRA licence

New Delhi: In yet another crackdown on NGOs, government today cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) for its activities which allegedly hampered country's economic growth.

The Greenpeace India's registration has been cancelled under Section 13 of the FCRA, a senior Home Ministry official told PTI tonight. The decision would mean that the NGO will not be able to receive from abroad the funds, which are upto 30 per cent of its overall cost of operations.

The Home Ministry is likely to inform the Delhi High Court about its decision tomorrow when a case related to curbs on Greenpeace India comes up. Greenpeace India has about 340 people working with it. Greenpeace India termed the government action as an attempt to "silence campaigns" and said it will not be deterred.

Vinuta Gopal, interim co-Executive Director of Greenpeace India, said Greenpeace India will continue its campaigning undeterred and is in fact launching a "new creative campaign" to highlight crackdown on civil liberties. "The cancelling of our FCRA registration is the government's latest move in a relentless onslaught against the community's right to dissent.

It is yet another attempt to silence campaigns for a more sustainable future and transparency in public processes, Gopal said. "Cutting access to our foreign funding may be a desperate attempt to get us to cease our work but the MHA probably didn't count on our having an amazing network of volunteers and supporters who have helped us continue our work despite the government crackdown.

"Since the majority of our funding comes from Indian citizens, most of our work can indeed continue," the Greenpeace official said. Gopal added, "in fact, we are responding to this latest melodrama by launching a new creative online campaign and are confident that people will show they are ready to fight back in style, and send a clear message to those in power: you can't muzzle dissent in a democracy."

Hozefa Merchant, the Greenpeace Campaigner, said the government action will not affect the organisation much financially as 70 per cent of funds are generated domestically. Priya Pillai, Greenpeace activist who was earlier in January prevented from travelling to UK, said the government has been cracking down on her NGO "vengefully" but they will not be deterred.

The cancellation of FCRA licence came months after the Home Ministry suspended operations of Greenpeace and blocked foreign funding alleging that the NGO had been involved in activities contrary to country's economic progress like organising protests against coal mining, anti-govenment propaganda in abroad.

Pillai was offloaded from a London-bound flight by immigration officers in New Delhi airport in January to prevent her from travelling to UK where she was to address British parliamentarians. The Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai's "offload" passport stamp was expunged in May.

The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India's bank accounts, following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from the Delhi High Court. Since last one year, FCRA licence of at least 11,000 NGOs were cancelled by the government for violating various provisions of FCRA.

In April, government ordered that funds coming from the US-based Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry. A crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International, Aaron Gray-Block, was denied entry into India Three months ago as his name figured in a Home Ministry "black list".

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