Our offices inspected by TN officials: Greenpeace India

Our offices inspected by TN officials: Greenpeace India

Greenpeace India today claimed that its office was inspected by a team of investigators from Tamil Nadu government and termed the move as "orchestrated" by those who are "frustrated" by its resilience.

The green body said the investigators refused to submit their request in writing but verbally confirmed that they were looking into the organisation's society status - the legal basis on which Greenpeace operates in India.

"The registered office of Greenpeace India has been inspected by authorities in Chennai who are investigating the organisation's society status.

"The move was orchestrated by those who are frustrated by Greenpeace India's resilience and are searching for new ways to shut it down," the green body said in a statement.

In a relief for Greenpeace India, Delhi High Court had recently allowed it to use two of its accounts for the purpose of receiving and utilising fresh domestic donations for its day-to-day functioning, telling the government it cannot choke them of their funds.

"Greenpeace India has turned out to be stronger than the MHA expected. As a result, bureaucrats in Delhi are searching desperately for new ways to shut us down.

"This latest move is quite obviously a response to the High Court decision last week in which the judge allowed us to use our bank accounts. We refuse to be intimidated and we will cooperate fully with this investigation, as we have done throughout," Greenpeace India programme director Divya Raghunandan said.

The green body said that it has been summoned to a tax hearing on June 12, for which its accountants have been told to prepare for a large tax bill.

"Greenpeace India is a charity, and thus should be exempt from most taxes. But the government has chosen to retrospectively remove its tax exemption on a number of items. The tax bill for the year 2012-2013 is expected to reach around Rs 3 crore, which would represent most of Greenpeace India's operational budget for the next few months.
"The effect of this, therefore, would be similar to the government's previous attempt to freeze Greenpeace India's domestic accounts," the statement said.

Noting that this week, the NGO's society status was under investigation and the next week it will face a huge tax bill, Raghunandan said that the pattern is so obvious it is frankly "embarrassing" for the government.

"It is using the bureaucracy to strangle us because of our successful campaigns to protect our forests from mining especially those that call for cleaner air in our cities and greater transparency from coal companies," she said.

The government had barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds by suspending its licence for six months and freezing all its accounts after alleging that it has "prejudicially" affected the country's interests.

"Our response to this is simple. We will continue to campaign against air pollution and for a cleaner environment for all Indians. These arbitrary attacks have only made us more determined to win our campaigns. Our public support is growing by the day, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has sent us a positive message over the past few weeks," Raghunandan said.

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