India court grants Greenpeace access to bank accounts in partial victory over government crackdown

Greenpeace activists chained to a bank of solar panels blocking the entry to the residence of Delhi's then Power Minister Haroon Yusuf in New Delhi, on May 15, 2013. A court in New Delhi on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, ordered authorities to unfreeze Gre
Greenpeace activists chained to a bank of solar panels blocking the entry to the residence of Delhi's then Power Minister Haroon Yusuf in New Delhi, on May 15, 2013. A court in New Delhi on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, ordered authorities to unfreeze Greenpeace India's local bank accounts in a partial victory for the environmental campaigner against the government. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW DELHI(AFP) - A court in New Delhi on Wednesday ordered authorities to unfreeze Greenpeace India's local bank accounts in a partial victory for the environmental campaigner in its ongoing battle against the government.

In an interim ruling, the High Court said Greenpeace could also receive local donations into those two accounts, handing the group a lifeline which would allow its operations to continue in India for now.

"Our domestic accounts have been unblocked. This gives us the minimum resources to function and continue to protect India's environment," the group said on Twitter after the court ruling.

Greenpeace said, however, that the ruling was only temporary, with further court hearings into its petition against the government's crackdown expected later this year.

Greenpeace has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of waging a "malicious campaign" against the group after its foreign funding licence was withdrawn last month.

The home affairs ministry cited violations of rules governing international financial transactions as reasons for the decision.

Following the ban, Greenpeace said many donors in India were unable to deposit money into the group's local accounts, leading it to warn that it could go under within weeks.

The campaign group receives 70 per cent of its funding from Indian donors living in India.

Greenpeace has been at loggerheads with the government over claims of environmental damage caused by India's heavy reliance on coal and the impact of deforestation and nuclear projects.

According to Indian media, a secret report by the main intelligence agency recently warned that delays to keynote developmental projects being sought by Greenpeace and other such organisations could knock up to three percentage points off the annual growth rate.

Greenpeace campaigner Priya Pillai was prevented by immigration officials from leaving Delhi in January after the government placed her on a suspicious persons list.

The funding freeze on Greenpeace came shortly before the US Ford Foundation was hit with similar restrictions, prompting the American ambassador to New Delhi to warn of a "chilling effect" on democracy.