Taking pre-emptive action, the Modi government has blocked websites of environmental advocacy groups. The environmental advocacy groups, named Let India Breathe (LIB), FridaysForFuture (FFF), and There Is No Earth B, released separate statements after their websites were found inaccessible on many platforms after the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) blocked them on government orders.
Let India Breathe Statement on #InternetCensorship
Today, we are reaching out to our community and large, diverse base of volunteers to inform them about an unprecedented act of internet censorship. (1/11)#InternetFreedom #DigitalLockdown pic.twitter.com/eCdQyoWtXz
— Let India Breathe (@LetIndBreathe) July 13, 2020
— Fridays For Future India 🇮🇳🌏 (@FFFIndia) July 13, 2020
— ThereIsNoEarthB (@ThereIsNoEarthB) July 10, 2020
As per a report by Vice.com, “Fridays for Future is the India chapter of 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg-led global climate strike movement, while Let India Breathe and There Is No Earth B are volunteer-based movements that mostly involve students.”
“We get orders from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), home ministry and others as well. Our business is to proliferate ‘.in’ websites, therefore more ‘.in’ websites only benefit us. We have very little discretion in such matters,” said Sanjay Goel, NIXI Chief Executive Officer.
In the last few weeks, the left-liberal establishment and eco-fascist groups which held India’s economic growth ransom for decades and have considerable sway, are trying to build moment against Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) policy 2020, which gives discretionary policy to the government to decide on Environmental matters.
So far, National Green Tribunal, an extra-constitutional body ruled by eco-fascist members who oppose every development policy tooth and nail, has complete authority over environmental clearances.
The draft document, released on March 23 by Environment Ministry, was available for public comments till June 30. The environmental groups started building a moment against the draft recommendations from day one, but given the fact there was extensive lockdown across the country, they could not succeed.
The former bureaucrats from environmental ministry, who seek employment with NGT after retirement, also wrote a letter to the ministry asking to withdraw EIA policy 2020. “It is clear that what the amended policy [EIA] really intends to do is to considerably dilute the existing process of granting environment clearances and to prevent any public scrutiny of the project proponents’ actions,” the former officers said in their letter. “Many of the changes have, in fact, been proposed to circumvent the past decisions of the National Green Tribunal and the Courts.”
India, despite being a developing nation, witnesses the highest number of anti-development project activism, as seen in dam-building projects (for example Sardar Sarovar Dam) to the closing of existing industries (Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu).
At the forefront of this anti-development campaign to block foreign investments is the nexus of NGOs that directly or indirectly sabotage crucial projects under the garb of farmers’ rights or environmental vigilantism.
According to a 2014 Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, foreign-funded NGOs such as Greenpeace, Cordaid, Amnesty, and Action Aid have been “serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments” by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants in India.
These NGOs are said to work through a network of local organizations such as PUCL and Narmada Bachao Andolan, founded by Medha Patkar.
In the recent past, there have been umpteen numbers of examples where the NGOs have played spoilsport, effectively blocking crucial projects, including those that promised to bring in massive FDI into India.
The environmental vigilante played spoilsport in a crucial Mumbai Metro project- the Aarey metro rail depot construction. The project itself was halted as soon as the Uddhav Thackeray government came into power in the state.
The Mumbai Metro project is being financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), but Ashwini Bhide, managing director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) feels that if the proposed Aarey car shed project is delayed then there could be a problem in its timely completion.
The ambitious Hyperloop and Bullet train projects in Maharashtra- both of which could have accelerated the state’s growth unprecedentedly have also run into trouble ever since the Uddhav Thackeray government came to power in Maharashtra.
In fact, anti-development agitations have been a political ploy for quite some time now, as foreign-funded NGOs along with political outfits often play spoilsport from the scrapping of the POSCO steel plant project in Odisha to the Singur agitation in West Bengal that had led to Tata Motors moving its Nano car project out of the state.
According to the 2014 IB report cited earlier, the “areas of action” of the foreign-funded NGOs have been anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-Genetically Modified Organisms protests.
But the report says that they have also been responsible for stalling big-bang industrial projects including those floated by POSCO and Vedanta. These NGOs are also said to be working to the detriment of mining, dam, and oil drilling projects in Northeastern India.
And this is not just about specific cases of protests, especially in the tribal, Naxal-dominated areas. The sheer vigilantism of the NGOs has led to legislation like the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
When the Modi government tried to dilute the provisions of the controversial 2013 Act, it had immediately come under a fierce attack from the same NGO nexus.
Today, a number of companies are looking towards India, but China won’t let the situation go out of its hands so easily. It might try to collude with the foreign-funded NGOs in India, in order to push against its Indian competitors.
The foreign funding of NGOs keeps going up, despite the Modi government tightening the screws under the FCRA norms. The NGOs will in all probability continue with their hidden agenda, and it is time for the Modi government to effectively address all key stakeholders.
India offers conditions competitive enough to attract any MNC, but the ambitions to emerge as a “manufacturing hub” could go down the drain given the hostile NGO ecosystem and networks within India.