Australian activists protest against Adani project

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani. (File pix)

Ahmedabad, March 17: A group of activists from Australia on Thursday swooped down on the corporate headquarters of the Adani Group to protest against the company’s proposed $11.5-billion coal mine project in that country.

The group flew down from Queensland to Ahmedabad to hand over an open letter against the project to the office of Gautam Adani, Chairman of the group.

“We have come in our individual capacity but represent several groups opposing the project that will be a major disaster. We are not opposed to Adanis and investment if it comes in clean energy and not environmentally dangerous coal mining,” Geoff Cousins of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who handed over the letter, told reporters outside the Adani House in the city.

Cousins, who is former advisor to the Australian Prime Minister, said: “In the past, we have successfully stalled a coal mine project bigger than Adanis’.”

The group — comprising a farmer, tour operator, environmental activists and business persons — called upon the company not to proceed with the development of Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. “We have handed over the letter and hope they see our point,” Cousins said.

The project envisages production of 60 million tonne coal per annum, laying a 388-km-long rail line and construction of a new coal export terminal at the Abbot Point coal port.

Although the Australian authorities, including Australian and Queensland governments, have given the project a green signal, the project has been in controversy ever since its inception.

“Back in Australia, a government licence is not sufficient. You also need a social licence by way of public support, which they will never get,” according to Cousins.

The key concerns from native landowners and environmentalists are impact of the project on groundwater and climate due to burning of coal from the mine and on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“The project will damage the fragile Reef that Australians and the world so deeply care about. Last year, 22 per cent of the corals in the Reef died. We have innumerable tourists from across the world, including India, who visit the Reef and this project will kill our industry,” Lindsay Simpson, a reef tourism operator in the group, said.

As many as 90 prominent Australians, including former cricket captains Ian Chappell and Greg Chappell, have signed the letter that includes signatures of well-known musicians, artistes, novelists, stakeholders and business leaders from Australia.

In an official statement, meanwhile, the Adani Group said it had received “a letter today from Mr. Geoffrey Cousins of ACF, whose legal challenge has been dismissed by the Australian courts”. “We categorically reject such motivated letters of representation by a very small group of 76 misled people.”

“The project will create enormous social and economic value for both the countries of Australia and India,” the statement said.