Indian Prime Minister’s remarks on fuel protests
March 1, 2012
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent statement that the opposition against the Kudankulam (also, Koodankulum) Nuclear Power Plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was being fuelled by foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has raised a number of questions regarding the regulation of NGOs, and driven a wedge between the government and civil society groups. Local protests have stalled the commissioning of two 1000-megawatt reactors at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
Here is a roundup of news and comments from various Indian newspapers, magazines, news wires and websites tracking the fallout of the PM’s statement
Business Standard, 1st March, 2012
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will look into allegations that non-government organisations violated foreign funding rules. The home ministry has referred two such cases to the investigating body. A senior CBI officer said: “We have not registered any formal preliminary inquiry. There is an informal inquiry going on against the two organisations, names of which cannot be revealed at this stage.” The cases are against two Tamil Nadu-based non-government organisations (NGOs) for alleged contravention of the provisions of Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA), 2010, said CBI sources. The move has provoked comparisons of NGOs’ anti-nuclear movement — particularly against the Kudankulam project — with the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare.
Daily News & Analysis, 28th February, 2012
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been sent a legal notice by S.P. Udayakumar, the convener of the Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy for the former’s criticism that NGOs in the country are receiving support from abroad for stalling the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and leading protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. Legal experts called this a rare instance. “I do not know whether any past prime ministers have been served with legal notices by the citizens. This is an interesting development,” said a Madras High Court lawyer.
By Sreelatha Menon
Business Standard, 27th February, 2012
The prime minister’s remarks that foreign-funded NGOs were pushing alien agendas to thwart nuclear enterprises and biotechnology research in India have found the most vocal protests and denials coming not just from such not-for-profit organisations, but even from union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. Ramesh, while responding to the matter, said yesterday that a moratorium he imposed on BT brinjal was not under the influence of NGOs. It was done, after taking into account the views of states, scientific opinion and the community, he added. The remarks have created a wedge between the government and the civil society, while indicating that the country’s administration is itself split on key issues. It seems that one arm of the government is receptive to dissenting views from the NGOs, when many activists are themselves part of the national advisory council. Even so, the other arm, now represented by the prime minister, has been blaming the same set of organisations for stalling development. According to NGOs, such comments divert the attention of the nation from issues and don’t help achieve anything.
MSN news, 1st March, 2012
The home minister refused to link the crackdown on four NGOs in Tamil Nadu to the agitation against the Kudankulam plant. The union home ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are at loggerheads over whether the NGOs booked by the government for diverting funds were fuelling the anti-nuclear protests at Kudankulam or not. On February 24, minister of state in the PMO V. Narayanasamy had clearly said the home ministry had cancelled the licences of three NGOs in Tamil Nadu after they were found to be diverting foreign funds received for social causes to fuel the Kudankulam stir. Narayanasamy’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s interview to the Science journal, in which he alleged foreign hand behind the anti-nuclear agitation, was made public by Mail Today. Narayanasamy said the PM’s observations were based on the MHA inquiry. But on Wednesday, Home Minister P. Chidambaram stressed that he had no knowledge about whether the four NGOs that have been booked had diverted funds specifically for the anti-nuclear protests.
Economic Times, 29th February, 2012
BJP has demanded that the Centre should come out with a ‘white paper’ on the issue of non-governmental organisations getting foreign funds and “working against public interest.” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had indicated that some NGOs were protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Project at the instance of some foreign organisations, P. Muralidhar Rao, BJP National Secretary told reporters after attending the party’s state level meeting here last night. Singh in an interview to a magazine hinted that protests around Koodankulam were often funded by some NGOs based in the United States and Scandinavian countries. The Prime Minister’s statement must be based on some authentic information, Rao added.
By M.C. Rajan
India Today Magazine, 16th February, 2012.
Russia seems to be stuck in a catch-22 situation. The ongoing anti-nuclear stir in southern Tamil Nadu has placed the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in a limbo. It is only now Russia has realized that the going might get tough. Unable to hide the deep angst over the ready-to-commission plant being held up, Russian Ambassador Alexander M Kadakin done some plain speaking to drive home the point that their patience was running out. The frustration was palpable when he said that his country could not allow its scientist to remain idle any longer. This is the first time a high-ranking Russian official has opened his mouth on the matter. However his was diplomatic enough to say, “We are not setting any deadline. I am in close touch with the Indian Government and would not put pressure of any kind,” he said. “Our scientists are sitting idle since October 2011. They are scientist of the highest caliber and their services are needed back home and in countries like Slovakia,” he pointed out.