Greenpeace India Says It Will Continue Environmental Campaign – by Nida Najar (New York Times – September 4, 2015)

NEW DELHI — Greenpeace India said on Friday that it would continue campaigning for clean air and against coal mining in protected forests in the country despite the government’s revoking its permission to receive foreign donations.

In an order canceling the group’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that Greenpeace had “prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state.” Greenpeace India learned of the cancellation on Thursday.

The government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has declared economic development a priority and has been cracking down on nongovernmental organizations like Greenpeace, whose work often runs counter to its aims.

“I think all along this is not about Greenpeace alone; this is about what’s happening to the space for dissent in India,” said Vinuta Gopal, the interim co-executive director of Greenpeace India. “The clampdown has not been just against us. It’s been against a number of NGOs.”

In April, the government suspended Greenpeace India’s registration for foreign funding and froze its bank accounts. And despite the group’s assertion that its work would continue, its legal battles and lack of access to foreign funds have hit it hard, cutting its budget by about 30 percent, Ms. Gopal said. It has had to cut its staff by about 20 percent, and Ashish Kothari, the chairman of its board, said there had been “some amount of downsizing of the campaigns.”

Particularly affected, Mr. Kothari said, will be the organization’s high-profile efforts, exemplified last year by activists who scaled the Mumbai office building of an energy company involved in mining with a banner that read, “We Kill Forests.”

The moves against the group have also compelled it to change strategic course and try to increase its domestic contributions, which it receives from about 75,000 donors, even as it has had to trim its fund-raising staff because of the legal dispute, Mr. Kothari said.

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