Millennium Post

RBI bars funding to four law-breaking US NGOs

The US-based Avaaz, Bank Information Centre, Sierra Club and or their representatives have been debarred from receiving funds from abroad after it was found that the foreign contributions were being remitted into personal accounts of a few individuals instead of bank accounts operated under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, a Home Ministry official said.

The action came after Home Ministry asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners' division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. It follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of the four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.

Accordingly, the central bank has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis, the official said.

The move came six months after international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation were subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The NGOs have denied the charges.

"No NGO will be allowed to violate Indian regulations and (will be) liable for action if they do so. Action will be initiated against them," the official said.  Home Ministry is clear that if any NGO is not complying with Indian laws, they will be banned for good, the official said. NGOs are required to carry out due diligence and it is expected that all NGOs, including foreign ones, respect Indian laws and operate in accordance with the same.

The New York-based Avaaz works on public issues. In September 2014, it had organised a 'People's Climate March' in Delhi.Bank Information Centre (BIC) is an Washington-based NGO that tracks World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects worldwide and has a special focus on India. Its works involve public debate on coal and energy projects in India.

The New York-based works on climate-change while Sierra Club of California has been opposing coal imports from Australia for Indian thermal plants, including deals that were finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Australia in November last year.
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