Call it a conspiracy theory, but if the Centre is to be believed, there could be a link between the hike in foreign funding for NGOs and protests against the Kudankulam plant.
Sources said foreign contribution to 12 NGOs in two districts — Tirunelveli, where the plant is based, and neighbouring Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu — has increased sharply over the last four years, ever since agitations against the plant started. “These NGOs received over Rs 31 crore in 2010-11, with the foreign contribution to some doubling during the agitation period,” a senior government functionary said, adding that the money given is mostly for social causes such as education, health and sanitation.
The Tamil Nadu government was asked by the Centre to register cases against two of the 112 NGOs for diverting foreign funds under the provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act. The role of 10 other NGOs in the Kudankulam agitation is also being probed.
The misuse of foreign funds for launching agitations against the government came into the spotlight when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused US non-profit organisations of funding the agitation against two reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant."These NGOs… don’t appreciate our country’s need to increase energy supply," Singh said.
The home ministry’s website shows that there has been an overall increase in foreign funding to NGOs in Tamil Nadu, mostly Christian organisations. While the Tuticorin Diocesan Association witnessed a 50% jump in foreign funding, the People’s Education for Action and Community Empowerment (an NGO headed by chief agitator Uday Kumar) received foreign aid of Rs 2.64 crore.
NGOs in Tamil Nadu received over Rs 2,500 crore in foreign funds between 2006-07 and 2010-11.