Tamil Nadu: Two Catholic NGOs blamed in anti-nuclear protest *77 NGOs under government scanner

March 2, 2012 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india, Persecution, Tamil Nadu

nuclear-plantTamil Nadu, March 01, 2012: The two NGOs involved, the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and the Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society, are headed by Bishop Yvon Ambroise. The government froze their bank accounts, accusing them of using foreign funds to support demonstrations against the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear plant.

“All the funds of Church organisations can be viewed on the Indian cabinet website. There is no ambiguity but absolute transparency,” said Fr William Sadhanam, spokesman for the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and the Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society. He spoke to AsiaNews about two of the four NGOs accused by Tamil Nadu state authorities of diverting funds. Both NGOs are headed by Mgr Yvon Ambroise, bishop of Tuticorin.

Last week, the federal government announced it had frozen the accounts of four NGOs associated with the protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state. The other two NGOs are based in Kanyakumari.

Federal Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy said these NGOs used funds from foreign countries donated for social service causes such as helping the physically handicapped, eradication of leprosy or for religious purposes, but were using them instead in anti-nuclear protests.

Freezing “the diocesan bank accounts [. . .] is completely unjust,” Fr Sadhanam said. “Just because a large number of the protestors against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state are Catholic fishermen,” does not mean that “we are providing financial support as well. This is completely false and baseless. When there was the tsunami, the government requested the assistance of the Church for relief and rehabilitation of thousands of victims, and now, we are being falsely accused.”

Agreed to in 1988, the Kudankalam nuclear plant has been under construction since 1997. But ever since, it has been plagued by delays and grassroots opposition.

On 11 September 2011, 127 people went on a hunger strike in the village of Idinthakarai. After 12 days, they stopped when the state’s chief minister, J. Jayalitha, said he would stop the project. He did not.

– asianews

77 NGOs under government scanner


NGOTamil Nadu, March 02, 2012: The move has come in for sharp criticism from the opposition and civil society.

The government of India has placed 77 non-governmental organisations (NGO) under surveillance for allegedly being “hostile to national interests”.

Government intensified its drive against the NGOs following the crackdown on four such organizations allegedly instigating protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

The government sees the protests as an attempt to stall India’s ambitious nuclear energy programme.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday directed home ministry officials to monitor the NGOs to check whether they were violating rules that guide funding and mandate their actions.

He was chairing a meeting of the Economic Intelligence Council.

The NGOs, mostly from the US and Europe, will be placed on a watch list with the external affairs ministry asked to ensure visa applications of their members are scanned.

Representatives of the ministry of external affairs said that the list of suspect NGOs drawn by home ministry has been “circulated to Indian missions and posts abroad with an advice to monitor those when they apply for visas”.

Most of the NGOs on the “watch list” receive funding from US and European countries.

Action has been sought against 12 NGOs in Tamil Nadu – apart from the four facing cases for alleged diversion of funds.

The government has, however, refused to divulge names of the NGOs that it says are behind the protest at Tamil Nadu.

The government action has drawn sharp criticism.

The opposition has demanded a statement from the prime minister while civil society activists have decried the government’s strong arm tactics.

However, the NGOs have denied any involvement in the agitation and insist they are involved in charitable work.

Local protests organized at Kudankulam have derailed the commissioning of the first 1000 mw unit of the 4780 mw nuclear power plant.

– timesofindia

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