Intelligence Bureau's report terming NGOs as a threat to national economic security drew flak from various organisations which said views contrary to government policies cannot be labeled as a threat.
The bureau in a 21-page report to the Prime Minister's Office has said foreign funded NGOs were stalling key projects, which can adversely impact the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth by 2-3%.
The report also listed the key economic sectors the foreign funded NGOs such as Greenpeace were aiming to target this year, while asking the government to put in place a plan to counter them.
The report published in a Delhi-based newspaper has also said that these NGOs were being funded by organisations in United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavian countries.
"Strangely, the government does not have problems with foreign investment but has with foreign funded civil society bodies. If the government does not want foreign funded NGOs, it should stop foreign investments and develop India on basis of domestic resources," said Nikhil Dey, co-convenor of National Campaign for People's Right to Information, an organisation whose campaigning led to enactment of Right to Information Act.
A top functionary of a Delhi based civil society group, who was not willing to be quoted, said the IB cannot take away the right of an organisation to protest simply because it received funds from abroad.
"The government can take action against an organisation if there is misuse of foreign funds under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)," he said, adding the government should be concerned about the issues being raised rather than the funding.
No organisation can receive funds from a foreign agency without home ministry authorisation under FCRA. A ministry can revoke permission if there is misuse of foreign funds and such action has been initiated against few organisation, a home ministry official said.
In a section related to protests against coal mines and coal-fired power projects, the report alleged Greenpeace expanded its activities to oppose coal-fired power plants and coal mining and received Rs. 45 crore from abroad in the last seven years.
"It is using foreign funds to create protest movements under 'Coal Network' umbrella at prominent coal block and coal-fired power plant locations in India," the report said.
However, Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace, said he was "shocked and amazed" at the IB report.
"I don't know how they have reached such a conclusion. We have been advocating for renewable energy that will bring investment and spur economy," he said, while reacting to IB's claim that Greenpeace was a threat to "national economic security".
He also claimed that the NGO receives most of its funding from individuals in the country and not abroad.
"In 2013-14, Greenpeace received Rs. 20 crore. More than 60% of our funds came from Indian supporters. Foreign contribution constitutes 37% of our funds. You can do the math – that is approximately Rs. 7 crore. If India's growth can be impacted by that – it's laughable considering the massive outlay of corporations and foreign lobbies," said Abhishek Pratap, Greenpeace's senior campaigner.
It is not for the first time that the NGOs have come under attack for protesting against projects. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had accused US based organisations of fomenting trouble in Kudankulam, where India's biggest nuclear power plant was coming up.