First, who is really angry with Greenpeace? Let’s see if we can find some answers. An Intelligence Bureau report was leaked last week. The report made headlines and accused the ominous foreign hand for aiding NGOs like Greenpeace for stalling India’s scam-riddled growth story. We could hear angry voices slamming NGOs for simply not adhering to India’s growth model, unfairly tilted towards benefiting the corporate entities.Now, a week after the leak of the top-secret classified report, one such entity, sought to use the IB report against Greenpeace in a court of law. After a quick recap of Greenpeace’s activities in the past one year one would know, who is most angry with Greenpeace.
The NGO has been supporting villagers of Mahan against Essar Power and Hindalco Industry’s proposed coal mine. In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) case, Essar has already tried to quash any kind of people’s movement. Now the company is seeking to use the IB report for the case. However, the company is yet to establish the relevance of the IB report to the case. Earlier this year, with regard to the same case, the Bombay High court quashed Essar’s plea to prevent Greenpeace from demanding (then environment minister) Veerappa Moily’s resignation.
And now, we fear that a highly classified IB report may just become a tool to serve corporate interests. It will also be successful in impressing members of the new government. After all the new government – which gave the environment ministry a new international touch by renaming it as Ministry of Environment, forests and Climate Change – has till date only talked about giving speedy clearances to projects.
Discussion on protecting the environment has been minimal. Our new environment minister, Prakash Javadekar even said that India has a right to grow. And carbon emissions may rise. This from the party that talked about ‘developing assets and amenities in a manner that leaves an equally good or even better environment for the future generations’.
Though the home minister has denied seeing the report, the government seems clear that critical voices will be tagged as illegitimate to prevent discussion on real issues –holistic sustainable development, environment degradation and all that jazz.
The economists at World Bank in last year's report stated that environment degradation costs India Rs3.75 trillion, which is 5-7 per cent of its GDP. Fossil fuel driven particle pollution, with serious health consequences accounts for 3 per cent of India’s GDP. But why should we care about the World Bank? According to the Intelligence Bureau’s intelligent guesstimates, foreign funded NGOs were responsible for slashing India’s GDP by 2-3 per cent.
Economist, Surjit Bhalla, has already declared on a television debate that the IB deserves the Nobel Prize for coming up with such figures. Now that’s another matter, if this estimated GDP decline, has become a face-saver of sorts for the former UPA government.
At the end, it is the corporate companies that are angry with Greenpeace. The former UPA government and the new BJP government have shown that dissenters will be dealt with an iron fist.
Here is a list of are those not angry with Greenpeace: The 50,000 plus villagers of Mahan region, for whom, the forests of Mahan are the primary source of livelihood; not the 300 million people of India, who still live without electricity after over 60 years of India’s independence. And certainly not the over 1 million Netizens, who have pledged support to save Mahan.
The author is the executive director of Greenpeace India