Green activists dismiss claims they're damaging India's economy

 

Delhi

Environmental campaigners have hit back at a leaked intelligence agency report that claimed their activities were undermining India’s economic development and holding back growth by up to three per cent a year. The report highlighted the role of Greenpeace and called it “a threat to national economic security”.

In what activists said was an attempt to stifle debate in a country where the issues surrounding development remain controversial, a report supposedly prepared for Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed environmentalists were stalling projects in seven areas including nuclear power, coal-fired power plants and the extractive industries.

It claimed many of the NGOs received foreign funding in a way that was in breach of Indian law.

The report, said to have been prepared by India’s domestic intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), said Greenpeace “is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security … growing exponentially in terms of reach, impact, volunteers and media influence.” 

Details of the report, published by the Indian Express newspaper, come just weeks after Mr Modi assumed office following a landslide election victory. During his campaign, he promoted himself as someone who would push India’s development and welcome investors. He said businesses would be met with red carpets rather than red tape.

Among both Indian and international businesses there has been anticipation of Mr Modi’s holding true to his word. At the same time, there has concern among campaigners as to whether regulations currently protecting the environment could be loosened.

In recent years, laws such as the Right to Information Act and regulations contained in the Forest Rights Act, permitted communities across India to halt several controversial industrial projects. Among the most high-profile cases related to UK-based Vedanta Resources, which was prevented from building an aluminium plant in Orissa on a mountain local people considered to be sacred.

On Wednesday, activists dismissed the claims of the report. Ramesh Agrawal, an activist from the central state of Chhattisgarh who earlier this year won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, said if the government had evidence against campaigners it should present it.

“The government is raising the stakes,” Mr Agrawal, who helped villagers stop a massive coal mining project, told The Independent. “People need to know about energy production, about coal.”

Mr Agrawal, who in the summer of 2012 was threatened and shot, added: “The environment is a concern all around the world, not just in India. To say that we are anti-national – I do not agree with that.”

Greenpeace India on Wednesday hurriedly organised a press conference to reject the allegations levelled at it. It also wrote to the home ministry asking that it be presented with a copy of the IB report. No-one from the ministry responded to queries.

Bharati Sinha, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace India, dismissed the claims of the IB and said the organisation had every right to protest in a nation that considered itself the world’s largest democracy. She said it had always campaigned for development that was sustainable and growth that was inclusive.

She said Greenpeace India received more than half of its funding from donors in the country and said it never accepted donations from corporations or governments. She said while the group could sustain itself from the funds it raised in India, no laws prevented it receiving a grant from Greenpeace International.

“We operate within the laws of the country and we have not violated any guidelines,” she said.

While the details of the IB report have emerged as Mr Modi takes over as India’s Prime Minister, this is not the first time the authorities have claimed to have uncovered foreign interference in environmental issues.

In 2012, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said protests against construction of a nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, which grew following the meltdown at Fukushima in Japan, were the result of foreign activists.

He told an interviewer: “The atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?