Is the report aimed at labeling the environmental NGOs opposing some of the development projects as anti-nationals? Only the actions by the Union Government in future have the answer to such questions.
The first paragraph of the IB report reads, "A significant numbers of NGOs (funded by some donors based in US, UK, Germany and Netherlands) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment, which leads itself to stalling development projects. These include agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants, genetically modified organisms, mega industrial projects (POSCO and Vedanta), hydel projects (at Narmada Sagar and in Arunachal Pradesh) and extractive industries (oil, limestone) in the North East. The negative impact on GDP is assessed to be 2-3% p.a."
The primary concern of the report is that the foreign funded NGOs are using the people centric issues to create a situation to stall development projects. Is there any illegality associated with the way these NGOs operate? If there are any, than what has stopped the government from taking action? The report further has alleged that these NGOs disguise their donation in the guise of 'protection of human rights, just deal for project displaced persons, protection of livelihoods of indigenous people etc'. That means there is nothing wrong in doing so.
The problem is that the funds are used for something else. The FCRA mandates that the NGOs report the same. If someone reports it wrong then there are provisions in the law for punishing it or stopping it. MHA should scrutinize the reports and take appropriate actions mandated in the law. At the same time the acts for which the NGOS are not mandated like supporting subversive activities appropriate legal actions should be taken up for it separately.
The IB report should also be read as a failure of the State to regulate and monitor the foreign donations and putting the blame on the others. In case of Kudamkulam, was it not the responsibility of the IB to be on the vigil and apprehend those who are involved with any illegal operations that is against the interest of the state? These reports by IB only exposes the failure of the IB itself in gathering intelligence and take appropriate action against the erring organizations or individuals.
Whenever there is any development project, there is resistance by the project affected people. Some of them are spontaneous and sometimes initiated by outsiders to that locality. It is not that this is happening only recently. Before the independence and immediately after the independence too there were such resistances. What people think is not in their interest they oppose. But what has been the history of the State in India in listening to the 'voice of dissent'?
Most of the times it is lathis, bullets, false police cases. Look at Hirakund multipurpose dam. On a rainy night people were brutalized by the Odisha State Armed Police. So terrified they were that they even did not come back to collect their compensation. After six decades with so much of effort by the civil society, displaced people and of course some good officers, now the Odisha government tried to provide compensations to those who had not received it. There was no whereabouts of the families to compensate.
The dam oustees have been meted out the same treatment in case of almost all the dams all over the country without fail. And the same thing is continuing even today. And the same thing has been repeated in case of industries, mining and other development projects. Why do people oppose such development projects? Is it because they are instigated by some foreign funded NGOs to oppose? No, it is because these people have the apprehension that they are being made the scrape goat for the benefit of others.
They draw parallels from the past. Even if the State assures the project-affected people (PAPs) that they will be benefited, they do not believe it. It is because the State has failed in keeping its promise in 'n' number of cases. These people want to oppose these projects at the cost of their lives. If some NGOs and individuals support these people in fighting for their rights, advocating for them, getting them networked with different groups a sin, an anti-national activity. Is not the state talking about empowering people, promoting peoopel to fight for their rights? Rather than seeing these as a subversive activity, it rather should be seen as a failure of the State in taking its people along with it.
Sudhir Patnaik, senior columnist and editor of a popular Odia fortnight, says, "The so called IB report to bring disrepute to ongoing democratic and peaceful protests of the ordinary Indian citizens has quite expectedly created sensation bringing unending laughter in the circle who has manufactured it. For the first time it appeared that the report has not been written by constables but by qualified university professors or corporate consultants. I read the report and the intention appeared to be just the same that I have been seeing among police and development administrators who have contempt for the common men fighting to save his rice bowl, his land, his water, his hills and his coast from invasion by profit mongering corporations. The only difference one notices here in the IB report prepared during the dehumanized home secretary S.K. Singh's tenure (who probably joined the BJP later) is the use of language which is undoubtedly a borrowed one. The report has made allegations against certain organizations and individuals without substantiating the basis of a single allegation, thus, making us believe that the wisdom has not come from any fact or field experience or from any neutral investigation and rather names have been dragged mischievously."
He further said, "I have a belief that corporations investing in India to appropriate its rich natural resources by causing large scale deprivation among the locals while only benefiting a tiny group who collaborate in this plunder have already taken control over India’s intelligence agencies. IB reports are not sacrosanct and when market fundamentalism is ruining all most all constitutionally established institutions it will be simply foolish to believe that an agency like IB who has the reputation of being used by ruling regimes for political purposes will produce something intelligent and based on truthful neutral findings. The market is now celebrating this IB report. They seem to branding all genuine peoples movements in to two broad categories such as- Maoist supported and foreign funded. They did it with Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh by calling it Maoist supported."
"Long before the IB report, they have been branding the Dongarias movement in Niyamgiri as foreign funded. The tribals get a shock when they hear these entire allegation undermining their wisdom and rights to protest. It is okay for the state if a company gets foreign money in the name of FDI to take away peoples’ resources but if people protest against any such plunders suddenly a foreign hand becomes visible. If we have a right to express solidarity with victims of injustice anywhere in the world I would welcome any one anywhere who comes forward to share the voice of our distressed and deprived common men in the so called development areas. From Baliapal to Vedanta areas it is the common men who have been protesting on their own and the state and corporations after trying all possible means including murder, assaults, arrests, false cases, stopping of all essential services have failed miserably in suppressing them. Thus they are innovating new means to bring discredit to their movement. Conscientious citizens of the country should demand that this controversial IB report should be examined by a sitting Supreme Court judge and authors of the report, their past and present with possible linkages with market forces and ruling parties may be investigated in to," Mr. Patnaik further added.
(To be concluded)