THE Prime Minister’s unusually forthright and strong stand on the Kudankulam protestors is welcome. Organiser Weekly was the first publication to bring to light the devious role being played by the Church in spearheading the protest. Church leaders at the level of cardinals and bishops have got directly involved in orchestrating a chorus against the nuclear power project. According to the local reports, the church has had a huge growth in the region owing to poverty. They are afraid that a mega project would not only change the face of the area but also improve the socio-economic condition of the people in and around the region, in a ripple effect, depriving them of their soul-harvest. In this the various Christian denominations are in cut-throat competition.
Tamil Nadu is the largest recipient of foreign donations. This is followed closely by Andhra Pradesh. And over seventy-five per cent of the NGOs receiving the doles are Christian. According to the figures released by the Union Home Ministry in the FCRA page (Foreign Contributions Regulatory Act), the number of NGOs which received more than one crore is 233 during 2010-11. The number was 291 in 2009-10. Most of these NGOs are just extension counters of the Church, dabbling in religious conversions rather than social work.
The PMO has supported the stand of the Prime Minister that NGOs receiving foreign money, especially from the Scandinavian countries, were behind the Kudankulam protest. The government has also frozen the account of some NGOs for diverting funds from the intended purpose. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are here discussing amounts running into several thousand crores which are received from abroad, through the legal channel.
The local population of Kudankulam is small, around 300 families. But to bolster their strength, truck loads of people are being brought from the neighbouring areas like Thoothukudi. They are provided food and money and take turns to sit through dharnas. Questions are being asked how the local population, mainly dependent on fishing have kept out of sea for so long. It is not possible to sustain an agitation for over five months without outside support. In response to the concerns of the people in the vicinity of the nuclear plant, the state government constituted a committee which has submitted its report.
The point is, the plant has been under construction for many years now. The area had been earmarked much before that. Till now, the local population did not object. In fact, Tamil Nadu was vying to get the plant located there. Now just weeks before the commissioning, the protests have gone shrill.
The action being initiated by the central government is late, but not too late. The Home Ministry, holding so much information regarding the overt and covert operations need not have sat on them for so long. As soon as the government zeroed in on some NGOs, their supporters have started attacking the government, calling the action undemocratic, vindictive and oppressive.
There is hardly any effective forum in India that can monitor the working of NGOs. One such mechanism CAPART itself became so corrupt that it has now been wound up. For an area that involves such huge amount of money, transactions across the borders, it is necessary that some system be put in place which not only can keep a watch over the functioning of the NGOs, especially those which receive public funds and donations from abroad, but also allow redressal route for people who have complaints against the NGOs.