'3 NGOs diverted foreign funds to fuel Kudankulam stir'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2012 02:49 IST

A file photo of the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. (Petr Pavlicek/IAEA)

Three non-governmental organisations, opposing the Russian-built nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam, have been found to have used foreign funds received for social and religious purposes to fuel protests, violating foreign exchange regulatory rules.

Announcing this, minister of state in the prime minister’s office V  Narayanasamy said on Friday the three NGOs’ licences had been cancelled, although he did not divulge the names of the organisations.

The Kudankulam power station in Tamil Nadu was slated to be commissioned last year, but work on the project had to be halted over local protests on safety grounds. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/25feb_pg-01a.jpg

The minister said a home ministry probe was started after reports that some NGOs were spending money received from the United States and the Scandinavian countries on the agitation. “When the protests were growing, we decided to see who was funding them.”

Narayanasamy said these NGOs were receiving funds from foreign countries for social service causes such as helping the physically handicapped, eradication of leprosy or for religious purposes, but were using the money for anti-nuclear protests.

He said, “In fact, the people who are agitating near the plant have been continuing their agitation for the past three months. People are being brought there in trucks from various villages, they are being given food.”

The statement comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused foreign NGOs of funding protests against nuclear reactors.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley, however, demanded that the government make the facts regarding the NGOs public. “It’s a very important statement that the Prime Minister has made.”

Top government sources told HT that a routine verification exercise, conducted by the home ministry in January, detected problems in the accounts of three-four NGOs. “We have frozen their accounts and these cases have been referred to Tamil Nadu’s crime branch for a full-fledged criminal investigation,” a government source said.

The source explained that the freezing of accounts would prevent these NGOs from withdrawing funds. “A decision on cancelling their registration, which will be a permanent decision, will be taken only after studying the police report,” the source added.

Civil society organisations dependent on foreign funds have been on the radar of the government since last year when anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare took to the streets.

Earlier this month, Home Minister P Chidambaram also said that the anti-Kudankulam activists were using foreign funds. This is, however, the first time that the government has claimed to have found evidence to link NGOs leading an agitation to foreign funding.

Action to be taken against protestors: PC  | Kudankulam protests 

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