03/01/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Tamil Nadu: two Catholic NGOs blamed in anti-nuclear protest

by Nirmala Carvalho
The two NGOs involved, the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and the Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society, are headed by Bishop Yvon Ambroise. The government froze their bank accounts, accusing them of using foreign funds to support demonstrations against the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear plant.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "All the funds of Church organisations can be viewed on the Indian cabinet website. There is no ambiguity but absolute transparency," said Fr William Sadhanam, spokesman for the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and the Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society. He spoke to AsiaNews about two of the four NGOs accused by Tamil Nadu state authorities of diverting funds. Both NGOs are headed by Mgr Yvon Ambroise, bishop of Tuticorin.

Last week, the federal government announced it had frozen the accounts of four NGOs associated with the protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state. The other two NGOs are based in Kanyakumari.

Federal Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy said these NGOs used funds from foreign countries donated for social service causes such as helping the physically handicapped, eradication of leprosy or for religious purposes, in anti-nuclear protests.

Freezing "the diocesan bank accounts [. . .] is completely unjust," Fr Sadhanam said. "Just because a large number of the protestors against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state are Catholic fishermen," does not mean that "we are providing financial support as well. This is completely false and baseless. When there was the tsunami, the government requested the assistance of the Church for relief and rehabilitation of thousands of victims, and now, we are being falsely accused."

Agreed to in 1988, the Kudankalam nuclear plant has been under construction since 1997. But ever since, it has been plagued by delays and grassroots opposition.

On 11 September 2011, 127 people went on a hunger strike in the village of Idinthakarai. After 12 days, they stopped when the state's chief minister, J. Jayalitha, said he would stop the project. He did not.

 

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