New Delhi, June 17 IBNS | 2 months ago

Non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace India on Tuesday claimed the Essar Group tried to use 'leaked' IB report to clamp down on people's protests in Mahan forest in Madhya Pradesh.


"The company which has initiated a 500 crore Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) case on tribal people and Greenpeace, to stop them criticising its planned coal mine in Mahan forest, is now trying to use the 'leaked' Intelligence Bureau report in the court. At a hearing on the interim gag order on Greenpeace India, the Bombay High Court Judge asked Essar as to how the leaked Intelligence Bureau report is relevant to the case," the NGO said in a statetement.

"Essar is already trying to quash any kind of people's movement though the SLAPP suit, but is now trying to use the IB report too. The report has no relevance to the case in question, which is about Greenpeace and community criticisms of Essar's behaviour; it appears Essar is trying to use it to tarnish our names in the court through innuendo. This is how the IB report is serving corporate interests, in trying to cast critical voices as illegitimate, and prevent discussion of the real issues," said Arundhati Muthu, a campaigner with Greenpeace India.

The gag order on Greenpeace and villagers of Mahan came after they carried out a dramatic but peaceful protest at Essar's Headquarters in Mumbai.

"In contrast, the real issue aren't getting a hearing: people in Mahan have been running from pillar to post trying to lodge an FIR against a forged Gram Sabha, based on which the environment ministry granted the Stage II forest clearance to Mahan. But nothing has been done so far," said Muthu.

She said: "The SLAPP case should be seen in the same light as last week's Intelligence Bureau report. The ability of civil society to propose a better future, is a vital part of India's democracy, and must not be stamped out for the sake of corporate interests. We will continue to fight the SLAPP, and any other attempts to stifle civil society criticism of company's bad behaviour."

The case has been adjourned until June 24.

Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday slammed the recent report by the Intelligence Bureau, which alleged that some NGOs in the country are hurting its economic security, and said it was nothing but an 'attempt at criminalising any dissenting voices'.

The IB report had reportedly claimed that the NGOs and their international donors were planning to target several new economic development projects in the country.

(Posted on 17-06-2014)