They used sarcastic language. They encouraged people to demand water to drink. These are two of the reason  offered by the Home Ministry to justify its ban on Greenpeace receiving foreign funds, put in place on Thursday.

While the government notification claimed that the environmental NGO's registration had been cancelled because Geenpeace had “prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state”, a Home Ministry report prepared in September lists causes that are far less threatening, if at all. Some of them are so trivial, in fact, that they border on the absurd. The report had been prepared after an inspection of Greenpeace’s accounts and records. Here are some highlights.

Using sarcasm
The report sharply critiqued a Greenpeace ad which attacked the low financial limits in India’s nuclear liability clause.
"On August 14, 2012, Greenpeace posted a full-page colour advertisement in The Hindu, with a sarcasm-laced header, 'Can you spot the foreign hand in this picture?' and equally sarcastic content on the foreign hand being present in 'the air-conditioned offices in New Delhi, carpeted wall-to-wall with nuclear industry lobbyists."


Drinking water stops national progress
The report accused Greenpeace of placing “illegal obstructions to India’s energy plans” and “creating hurdles in the way of progress of our nation”.

One of the Greenpeace activities which the government produced to back up this claim is as follows:
"Mobilisation of over 2,55,000 people from drought-affected areas to stop diversion of water from agriculture and drinking."


This demand, that water not be diverted from a drought-affected area and be used for drinking purposes instead, violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, alleged the report.

Activism as a crime
On page 5 of the report, the Home Ministry lays out the following charge:
"Funding and creating activism and protests in areas where none existed, e.g.: in the villages of Mahan Coal Block by locating an office in the area and deploying GIS [Greenpeace] employees at the location, who spent all their time and GIS resources  in spreading misinformation amongst villagers."


What “misinformation” was spread is never spelt out. The NGO had been mobilising residents of the Mahan forest against a mining project that would have a detrimental effect on local communities. The project had been initially allocated to the Essar group. But the allocation was cancelled last year by the Supreme Court, along with 200 other coal mines, following which the government had initiated auctions of the mines. Eventually, the government decided not to put the coal mine up for auction as the project had not received environmental approvals.

Change of address
The report claimed that Greenpeace changed its address from Chennai to Bangalore without informing it.
"The annual report of the society for 2013 shows this address [Bengaluru] and does not show the registered office address [Chennai]. All the vouchers and correspondence of the society also show its Bengaluru address. Website of the association,, also does not show the address of the registered Chennai office. This in effect means that for all practical purposes it is functioning from its Bengaluru office. However no intimation for the same has been furnished to this Ministry.

While Greenpeace denied changing this charge, shifting offices seems unlikely to mean that the organisation “prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state”.

Greenpeace pays its employees too much
The report singled out a certain advisor from Greenpeace objecting to how high his renumeration was. In reply, Greenpeace argued that he was a highly qualified professional and his payment was still less than the the “market based pay for a similar professional”.

The government rejected this argument saying that “such exorbitant consultancy fees is in opposition to the spirit of FCRA”.

Definitions of what is “exorbitant” were not provided.

Highlighting pesticide abuse in foodstuff
The report said that Greenpeace was highlighting high levels of pesticide in India’s tea and was alarmed that the organisation was trying to test the presence of harmful substances in other foodstuffs. The report says:
"It has also decided to target other commonly consumed goods such as rice, wheat, etc. and highlight the abuse of pesticide in these sectors."

The government also took umbrage at the fact that Greenpeace had done the same thing in China:
“In April 2012, Greenpeace had published a similar questionable report, ‘Hidden Ingredients in Chinese Tea’, which had claimed to have found 29 different pesticides in 18 tea samples."

Ex-employee fought an election
"In contravention of Section3(1)(a) of FCRA 2010, Greenpeace was also in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and declared Greenpeace consultant, Pankaj Singh, as the AAP candidate from Mahan for the Sidhi Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh. He subsequently resigned from Greenpeace and joined AAP for the elections."


Section3(1)(a) reads that “No foreign contribution shall be accepted by any candidate for election”. Whether Pankaj Singh took any foreign contributions, however, is a point that the government doesn’t even try to prove. It just assumed that since Singh was once in Greenpeace, the organisation funded his campaign.