Essar Power, Hindalco cite 'secret' IB report to cry conspiracy

Coal joint venture claims it is being targeted at the behest of 'foreign masters' of the Western world

New Delhi
Mahan Coal Ltd has downloaded from the internet an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on environmental non-government organisations (NGOs), purportedly secret, and given it to the National Green Tribunal to claim it is being targeted as part of a "Western foreign policy" conspiracy hatched by "foreign masters".

A joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco Industries, Mahan Coal Ltd is fighting a challenge before the tribunal to the controversial forest clearance it received from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to mine the Mahan coal block in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh. The petitioner, the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, a group based out of Singrauli, has claimed that the mandatory clearance under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, was given illegally, so should be revoked.

The purported IB report on select green NGOs, according to media reports, named the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti and the protests against the coal block were fuelled by Greenpeace International through its Indian arm. The report, accessed by several media outlets, was marked 'secret' under the Officials Secrets Act and the government continues to neither deny nor affirm its veracity. It has subsequently put restrictions on the funding Greenpeace India gets from abroad.

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But now Mahan Coal Ltd has appended this 'secret' report to its recent affidavit before the tribunal, claiming to have downloaded it from the internet. The company's affidavit, accessed by Business Standard, reads: "A copy of the report of IB as downloaded from the internet is annexed herewith."

Citing various paragraphs from the report, the company has pleaded, "in light of the serious facts mentioned in the report, the appellant cannot be allowed to play in the hands of its foreign masters to advance Western foreign policy interests and use the machinery of law to hurt the Indian economy".

Quoting from the purported report, where it calls the NGOs "anti-national and anti-growth", the company has demanded the case be dismissed outright as the appellants have not come to the court with "clean hands" and are serving as "tools" for "foreign agenda".

The company's affidavit elaborates on the inability of Coal India Ltd to meet the demands of power producers which is leading to their dependence on imported coal. Referring to details from the 'secret' report, the company has said the petitions against its Singrauli project have come as a consequence of the international conspiracy the Intelligence Bureau report details.

Asking for imposition of exemplary costs against the petitioners on these grounds, the company has pleaded before the tribunal to dismiss the petition. But, without prejudice to its grounds of the petitioners being agents of western governments' agenda, the company has also put up counter arguments to the substantial pleadings by the NGO.

First Published: Jul 23 2014 | 0:56 AM IST

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