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Greenpeace challenges Essar on defamation

Posted on Jan 29 2014 | IBNS

Mumbai, Jan 29 : Greenpeace India on Wednesday said it will submit sufficient evidence to prove that the defamation charges pressed against it by Essar are false and that all Greenpeace allegations against the company are indeed based on solid evidence.

The documents will be presented in Mumbai High Court within the stipulated two weeks, Greenpeace India said.

The company has filed a Rs. 500 crore legal suit in the Bombay High court against Greenpeace India and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) --an organisation set up to defend the rights of those, who derive their livelihood from the Mahan forests .

The Bombay High Court has asked Greenpeace India to remove from its websites, posters, leaflets and pamphlets that alleged defamatory content against Essar Group.

"While we respect the observations of the court, we are confident we will prove all charges pressed by Essar wrong in the court of law. Right to protest is fundamental to democracy. We have protested in the most peaceful way and will defend our rights. It is not Greenpeace that is defaming the company but it is the company, their actions and their ways of doing business that is bringing shame on them," said Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India.

The Essar defamation suit comes after 14 Greenpeace forest activists scaled the company's headquarters in Mahalakshmi last week and unfurled a giant banner that announced why Greenpeace was protesting against Essar.

Several villagers from Mahan area and youngsters from Mumbai had staged a dharna outside the entrance of the company's building protesting the proposed destruction of Mahan forests - a biodiversity rich forest in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh by the company.

Along with the demand that Essar cancels its proposed coal mine in Mahan, Greenpeace India has also sought the sacking of Minister of Environment and Forest (MoEF) Veerapa Moily for his speedy clearances at the cost of the environment from the Prime Minister of the country.

Apart from slapping a Rs. 500 crore legal notice, the company has also pressed for gag order on Greenpeace on social and traditional news media and demanded the NGO to stay away from its premises.

Last week the Mumbai police had arrested 67 Greenpeace activists including members of the MSS and youngsters from Mumbai, who had participated in the protest outside Essar's building. All the activists have been granted bail by a Sub-divisional-magistrate's court in Mumbai.

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