Tax Exemption for Donations to Greenpeace India to be Withdrawn?

Activists up in arms after government’s decision to undo tax exemption for funds donated to Greenpeace India. 

2 min read
In this file photo,  policemen prepare to remove a Greenpeace activist as he holds a banner near the Parliament. (Photo: AP)

A move is afoot to withdraw tax exemption for donations to Greenpeace even as nearly 180 organisations and activists rallied behind the NGO accusing the government of a “shameful” crackdown against it.

Sources said central security agencies including those associated with financial intelligence have recommended such a course against the NGO on grounds of alleged financial irregularities in contributions received by it from abroad, a charge denied by the organisation.

Donations to Greenpeace enjoy 50% exemption under the provisions of 80-G of the Income Tax Act.

According to sources, the security agencies have recommended that this exemption should be withdrawn after the Home Ministry withdrew Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act licence to the organisation.

It is an orchestrated attack on free speech, constitutional rights and India’s democratic fabric. The new line of attack questioning the charity status of Greenpeace has no more justification than blocking foreign funding or offloading Priya Pillai.
– Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India

“Greenpeace India has nothing to hide and will continue to campaign for a sustainable and just future for Indians,” said Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India.

Meanwhile, 180 activists and organisations have protested and a letter in this regard has been submitted to Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The letter termed the crackdown as “shameful” in a country that has a history of standing up for social justice, ecological sustainability and the rights of the poor.

The letter states, “It is shocking that despite clear judicial pronouncements, the government has for a third time acted against Greenpeace India. We cannot but conclude that this is an attempt to divert attention from the serious issues that Greenpeace India and many peoples’ movements and NGOs are raising...”

The government had on April 9 blocked foreign funding to Greenpeace India by suspending its licence for six months and served a notice to the NGO asking why its registration should not be cancelled.

The decision was taken by the Home Ministry after it was found that the NGO has “prejudicially affected the public interests and economic interests of the country in violation” of FCRA.

Activists, including Medha Patkar and others, urged the government to immediately stop its “illegitimate and repressive” moves and respect the freedom of speech,” the Greenpeace India statement said.

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