Geoff Law published Has West Bengal lost confidence in Adani’s ability to develop the huge Tajpur port project? in Blog 2023-02-28 09:57:50 +1100
Has West Bengal lost confidence in 'the ginger trader's' ability to develop the huge Tajpur port project?
In 2022, the government of the Indian state of West Bengal selected the Adani Group as the developer of a major new port at Tajpur, on the Bay of Bengal. However, with the recent meltdown in the value of Adani’s stocks, questions have been raised about the conglomerate’s ability to deliver the project. The conspicuous absence of the previously much-touted development from February’s state budget speech added fuel to the fire, as did the chief minister's reference to Adani as a 'ginger trader' (petty operator). Meanwhile, fishing communities remain fearful that the project’s impacts on the coastline will deprive them of their traditional livelihoods.
With the sharp nosedive in the fortunes of the Adani Group in early 2023, questions have been raised about the fate of Adani’s ambitious port project on the Bay of Bengal in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. On 9 October 2022, a year after being re-elected to power, the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, selected the Adani Group to develop a deep-sea port at Tajpur.
But after no mention at all was made of the Tajpur port project in the government’s budget speech this year, opposition parties in West Bengal were quick to take a dig at Banerjee’s government. Clearly, this budget presentation was a departure from budget speeches of the past few years in which the Tajpur port had featured prominently. In addition, Banerjee’s pointed remarks against the group’s chairperson Gautam Adani, pertaining to questions of exposure of India’s financial institutions to the beleaguered business group, have added fuel to the political speculation.
Speaking at an event in Howrah city near Kolkata earlier this month, Banerjee obliquely referred to Adani as an Adaa’r Byapari, which literally means ‘a ginger trader’ in Bengali language but is a colloquial derogatory term used for petty operators. This occurred barely a year after her widely publicised meeting with the business tycoon to procure financial investments in West Bengal.
‘Where do you (the common people) keep your savings? Many in the LIC [Life Insurance Corporation], many in housing investments, many in banks… Where is all that money going? The money is going to the home of the Adaa’r Byapari [ginger trader],’ Mamata said at the event in Howrah.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding its rout in the stock market, the Adani Group has reportedly made clear its intention to proceed with the Tajpur port project.
Following the budget speech, made by the state’s finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya in the legislative assembly on 15 February 2023, Opposition political leader, Suvendu Adhikari, pointed to the conspicuous absence of Tajpur. The only mention of the port project pertained to the proposed construction of an economic corridor linking the port with Raghunathpur township on the state border with neighboring mineral-rich Jharkhand. The economic review report of West Bengal for the financial year 2022-23, which was presented by the state government in the legislative assembly on the same day as the budget speech, contains a reference to Tajpur Port regarding a Letter of Intent.
In the budget speech for the previous financial year, Bhattacharya had enthused about how the port project would be the harbinger of economic prosperity for West Bengal.
‘The proposed deep-sea Tajpur Port, a first of its kind in the state, is another large infrastructure project conceived as a long-term initiative for development of alternative seaports and integration of port-rail-road infrastructure for the creation of sustainable logistics infrastructure in the state. Over 1000 acres of land have been identified for developing the Port Project. It will harness huge logistics potential, attract further investment in allied infrastructure and industrial development and provide employment opportunities to a large number of our youth,’ the minister stated in last year’s budget speech.Read more
Geoff Law published Adani's coal-based community conflicts in India in Blog 2023-02-02 15:12:41 +1100
The forgotten people in Adani's agenda of coal exploitation in India - a list of community conflicts
The Adani Group's colossal agenda for exploiting coal has created community conflicts across the length and breadth of India. Indigenous people, traditional land-users and fishing communities have bravely tackled Adani's plans in order to defend their livelihoods and way of life. They have protested on land and at sea; in villages and in cities; on the streets and in the forests. This compilation is by no means exhaustive but gives details on 14 epicentres of conflict that have arisen from Adani's exploitation of coal on a massive scale in India.
1. COAL MINES
The Parsa Kente coal projects in the Hasdeo forests (Chhattisgarh)
For each of the Parsa Kente coal projects, Adani is the Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) on behalf of a Rajasthan power company that owns the mining leases. The projects threaten the biodiverse Hasdeo forests, home to elephants that become vulnerable and dangerous when their habitat is fragmented.
Protests to defend their lands, livelihoods and culture by Adivasi (indigenous tribal people) have been occurring for many years and include a 300-km march from the forests to the state capital in October 2021. The conflict has led to splits within the state government and between the state and national government. The one operating mine, the PEKB coal mine, has overcome all obstacles despite community opposition. In 2022, the community mounted peaceful direct-action protests against works to expand the PEKB mine. In June 2022, the state government said that works are ‘on hold’, but subsequently tree-felling resumed for the PEKB extension.
Status: 1 operating mine, 2 under development
Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd., Parsa Kente Collieries Ltd.
Community organisations: Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (HABSS) – the Save Hasdeo Forest Committee; spokesperson Jainandan Singh Porte. Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan; spokesperson Alok Shukla.
And many more.
Gare Pelma II coal mine (Chhattisgarh)
For the three Gare Pelma coal projects, Adani is the MDO. In June 2019, over 100 villagers protested at a meeting initiated by Adani, saying that 13 villages could be destroyed. Further protests occurred in October 2019. Reports have found that people inhabiting this region of densely packed coal mines and coal-power stations suffer serious illnesses.
Status: 1 operating mine, 2 under development
Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd
Community organisations: Mehnatkash Majdoor Kisan Ekta Samiti, spokesperson Rajesh Tripathi
Talabira II and III coal blocks (Odisha)
For the Talabira II and III coal projects, Adani is the MDO. Facing displacement are 1894 families from six villages. Some say their consent to mining was forged. Forests that have provided sustenance were destroyed in 2019, leading to civil disobedience. On 8 March 2022, 13 men were arrested for resisting dumping of overburden. Talabira I is disused but its waste degrades adjacent farms, leading to a community petition to the National Green Tribunal and a fine against the Adani company concerned.
Status: Talabira I mine now disused; Talabira II and III coal blocks under development
Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd; Adani subsidiaries Raipur Energen Limited and Talabira (Odisha) Mining Private Limited (TOMPL)
Community groups: Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air – Director Nandikesh Sivalingam; Dilip Sahu, a social activist; Hemanta Rout, local freelance journalist
Gondulpara / Gondalpura coal block (Jharkhand)
The misnamed Gondulpara coal block was ‘acquired’ by Adani Enterprises in November 2020. People from at least five affected villages in the Gondalpura area have resisted Adani’s attempts to commence preparatory works and acquire their land, angrily confronting officials. India’s peak body has called for the Gondalpura / Gondulpara coal project to be scrapped. Villagers have so far out-manoeuvred Adani and the state in their attempts to hold the meetings necessary for the approvals process.
Status: Under development
Adani companies: Adani Enterprises Ltd
Community groups: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
(List of conflicts continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Perceived Climate of Impunity in Blog 2023-01-30 12:39:34 +1100
Hindenburg revelations point to perceived climate of impunity
27 January 2023
AdaniWatch Responds to Hindenburg Report: ‘A Perceived Climate of Impunity’
AdaniWatch has scrutinised the activities of the Adani Group and related businesses for over three years.
The revelations contained in the Hindenburg report are consistent with a pattern of corporate misconduct observed over those years. But the report and initial response to it miss a crucial context that should bear on the thinking of businesses, citizens and governments: Adani is not working alone.
Geoff Law, Coordinator of Adani Watch, said: ‘Gautam Adani is in some sense a leading business partner of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If the allegations are true, they are just another example of what happens when crony capitalism and regime favouritism create a perceived culture of impunity.’
This culture extends well beyond the scope of the Hindenburg report. Both the Adani Group and other regime-allied businesses require far closer scrutiny.
‘India has enjoyed a pass largely on the fact that it’s not as bad as Russia or China. But the world needs to wake up to the plight of Indian democracy and governance before it’s too late to reverse dangerous trends,’ Mr Law added.
Adani Watch intends to continue monitoring and exposing the harmful effects of the Adani Group on people and the planet. Adani, the richest man in Asia, multiplied his wealth from an estimated 7 billion USD to an estimated 120 billion after Modi became India’s Prime Minister in 2014. (The crash in Adani’s share prices of 27 January is said to have reduced Mr Adani’s ranking to seventh richest and his fortune to USD 93 billion.)
Mr Adani is sometimes called ‘the King of Coal’ and has a colossal agenda for new coal mines and coal-power stations in India, exacerbating climate change and displacing thousands of indigenous people. Adani’s extraordinary closeness to the current Indian government is a matter of global environmental concern.
Geoff Law published The elephant in Adani’s room in Blog 2023-01-24 09:09:09 +1100
The elephant in Adani’s room
The status of a new elephant reserve in central India could determine whether dozens of coal projects go ahead. The biodiverse Hasdeo forests, home to tribal people such as the Gond, are threatened by a slurry of proposed coal mines. The forests are also home to the endangered Asian elephant, and the recently declared Lemru elephant reserve has put the coal industry, including the Adani Group, on notice.
Hundreds of elephants roam the Hasdeo forests in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. According to government sources, central India holds 10% of India’s total population of about 27,000 wild elephants.
However, as more development proceeds in these forests, encounters between rural people and elephants increase in frequency. Such encounters can be deadly – both to humans and to pachyderms. Various reports based on government data say that 325 people and 70 elephants were killed during encounters in Chhattisgarh between 2015 and 2019.
This situation can only worsen if proposed coal mines (including Adani’s) in the Hasdeo forests proceed. The 1800-square-kilometre expanse of forest is said to occur on top of over five billion tonnes of coal. An international data base says that the Hasdeo forests contain 23 ‘coal blocks’ – major deposits of coal, each of which would support at least one mine. If these huge excavations proceed – along with all the associated roads, working camps and powerlines – the Hasdeo forests will become utterly fragmented and more and more elephants and villagers will come to grief. A recent documentary highlighted these threats to the elephant’s existence in states such as Chhattisgarh.
One means of dealing with these conflicts is to declare an elephant reserve. Across India as a whole, more than 25 elephant reserves have been established since the 1990s. They cover some 58,000 square kilometres and contain a population of over 20,000 elephants. The reserves do not have the status of national parks. Traditional activities of the Adivasi (indigenous tribal people such as the Gond) can continue within elephant reserves, where there is a strong emphasis on managing human-wildlife conflict. Various forms of development are allowed within the reserves. However, the explicit recognition of an endangered species is supposed to inform prescriptions applied by governments.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Women’s-rights campaigner in India acquitted after wrongful imprisonment for two years in Blog 2023-01-09 08:58:05 +1100
Women’s-rights campaigner in India acquitted after wrongful imprisonment for two years
On 5 January 2023, well known indigenous-rights campaigner, Hidme Markam, was released from Jagdalpur Central prison. She had been wrongfully incarcerated by the Indian state of Chhattisgarh since March 2021. This followed her wrongful arrest – effectively an abduction – by the Chhattisgarh police. After nearly two years in prison facing five serious charges relating to sedition, she finally had her day in court and was acquitted of four charges and released on bail regarding the final charge. But will she be compensated by the state of Chhattisgarh?
As far as the police and the state government are concerned, the incarceration of Hidme Markam served its purpose. Her crucial work representing indigenous women had been successfully interrupted.
There has been no indication yet from either the police or the Chhattisgarh government whether Hidme will be compensated for her abduction and incarceration. There has not even been an apology.
On 9 March 2021, Hidme had been speaking at a gathering of women for International Women’s Day in the district of Dantewada, educating women about their rights in a region beset by strife between state and Maoist militia groups. One of the causes of the conflict is mining.
One of the controversial local mining projects being opposed by indigenous people is the proposed Bailadila iron-ore mine, of which the Adani Group is the developer. To the tribal inhabitants of the area, a local feature, Nandiram Hill, is a sacred site threatened by the proposed mine. Conflict has arisen over this and other mines, leading to the involvement of the police and other state para-military forces in Chhattisgarh. Such groups have been accused of gross violations of human rights, particularly against women.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Adani high up on Oxfam list of world’s carbon-emitting billionaires in Blog 2022-11-11 09:34:59 +1100
Adani high up on Oxfam list of world’s carbon-emitting billionaires
In November 2022, Oxfam released a report quantifying the carbon footprints of the investments of the world’s billionaires. Gautam Adani came close to topping the list. Six of his group’s companies were documented as emitting a carbon equivalent total of almost 30 million tonnes per annum. These greenhouse gases are spewed into the Earth’s atmosphere by Adani’s coal-power stations, gas installations and coal mines. Adani’s ports and railways add to this toxic toll by transporting colossal quantities of coal.
According to Oxfam’s website, ‘the world’s richest people emit huge and unsustainable amounts of carbon and, unlike ordinary people, 50% to 70% of their emissions result from their investments.
‘New analysis of the investments of 125 of the world’s richest billionaires shows that on average they are emitting three million tonnes a year, more than a million times the average for someone in the bottom 90% of humanity.
‘The study also finds billionaire investments in polluting industries such as fossil fuels and cement are double the average for the Standard & Poor 500 group of companies. Billionaires hold extensive stakes in many of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations, which gives them the power to influence the way these companies act.
‘Governments must hold [these billionaires] to account, legislating to compel corporates and investors to reduce carbon emissions, enforcing more stringent reporting requirements and imposing new taxation on wealth and investments in polluting industries.’
The spreadsheet accompanying the report lists the following Adani companies with the following carbon footprints arising from their investments. (The spreadsheet can be found by clicking on ‘English data file’ beneath the ‘Download File’ option on the website.)
Name of billionaire
Carbon footprint (kTCO2 equivalent)
Billionaire’s share of ownership
Adani Ports and SEZ
Adani Total Gas
Adani Green Energy
Oxfam’s spreadsheet, when ordered according to the carbon footprint of each enterprise, has Adani Power as third on the list, its emissions exceeded only by China (where it seems that no particular billionaire could be identified), and by ArcelorMittal, the company of Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Is Adani the world’s most thin-skinned tycoon? in Blog 2022-11-09 09:02:59 +1100
Is Adani the world’s most thin-skinned tycoon?
In September 2022, Gautam Adani briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the world’s second-richest person. He is now a permanent fixture amongst the top ten richest men on Earth. Adani’s personal net worth is said to be US $147 billion. He’s the richest man in Asia. His close links to Indian Prime Minister have become a thing of notoriety.
Gautam Adani is lionised by an army of acolytes in India. A gushing biography of him, published by Penguin, is said to be ‘a compelling business story and portrait of one of the most influential men in India right now.’
Backed by a colossal fortune and the accolades of millions, you would think that Mr Adani would feel secure enough to brush off criticism. However, it seems that behind Mr Adani’s ever-smiling visage is a hyper-sensitive, thin-skinned personality that feels the need to squash critics of his Group's operations.
This is best illustrated by the growing number of defamation cases mounted either by Mr Adani or by companies that are part of his Group against Indian journalists and media platforms. The latest of these is a lawsuit filed in August 2021 in Mr Adani’s home state of Gujarat against Delhi-based freelance journalist Mr Ravi Nair. This case came to light in July 2022.
According to the complainant company, Adani Enterprises Limited, Mr Nair has used Twitter to issue a number of comments with ‘the sole intent to tarnish the image of the complainant company and creating panic and chaos amongst the shareholders and investors’.
The tweets themselves are described in the complaint as ‘scandalous, frivolous, misleading, derogatory, libellous and defamatory’ that have allegedly been posted ‘wilfully, mindfully, deliberately and with such intent that it will be read by the public at large on social media’. (Adani seems to be highly indignant that posts on social media are intended for public consumption.)
Adani Enterprises Ltd claims to be concerned that this ‘series of strenuous tweets’ will ‘blemish the image, goodwill and reputation of the complainant company and the Adani Group’.
The melodramatic language employed only serves to pique one’s curiosity about what has actually been said in these tweets. Has Mr Nair accused the Adani Group of indulging in slavery or drug-trafficking? Has Mr Adani been described as an axe-murderer?
Hardly! In fact, the vast majority of the 26 offending tweets consist of the usual sort of commentary found in public discourse about political developments in a democracy. According to Adani’s complaint, the number of ‘likes’ pertaining to these tweets number in the hundreds, with the number of re-tweets generally numbering in the dozens. Most refer to attached stories published by the mainstream media.
However, towards the end of the series of offending tweets, there are four that refer to articles written by Mr Nair himself and published by AdaniWatch. Two of these pertain to the controversial Pench coal-power development in Madhya Pradesh; two pertain to the rather shadowy group of offshore investors in various publicly-listed Adani Group companies. The complaint itself, in fact, refers to a ‘defamatory article’ about these offshore investors published by AdaniWatch. Given that the complaint was filed in court the very next month, one wonders whether it is Mr Nair’s work for AdaniWatch in July 2021 that forms the main motivation for the court action.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Villagers at Gondalpura out-manoeuvre Adani coal company in game of cat and mouse in Blog 2022-11-01 08:41:25 +1100
Villagers at Gondalpura out-manoeuvre Adani coal company in game of cat and mouse
An intense game of cat and mouse is being played out between an Adani coal company and villagers in the north Indian state of Jharkhand. Adani intends to obliterate dwellings, fields and forests with a giant coal mine and is attempting to go through the motions of acquiring land from the residents. However, the villagers have responded by refusing Adani’s financial inducements, attending meetings in force, rejecting Adani’s demands, blocking access for Adani contractors, and even physically ejecting Adani officials from the area.
The neighbourhood of the north Indian town of Gondalpura faces an existential threat. An Adani company is proposing to excavate 300 ha of the land for a coal mine (misnamed ‘Gondulpara’). Residents of five villages will be displaced if the coal mine proceeds.
The Gondulpara (sic) coal block in the state of Jharkhand was ‘sold’ to Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) as part of a huge auction initiated by the Modi government in 2020. The people who live there were not consulted.
Subsequently, residents of the villages of Gondalpura, Gali, Balodar, Hahe and Phulang have been attending village meetings and rallies, chanting:
jal, jangal, jamin hamara hai = water, forest, land are ours
jal, jangal, jamin, bachao = save our water, forest and land
company wapas jao, wapas jao = company go back, go back
To gain government approval for the mine, Adani has organised a series of formal meetings. This is ostensibly a means of acquiring community approval; in reality it’s a devious way of faking it. The people are only too aware of the way in which these formal processes can be steamrolled by companies, contractors, government officials and police. They have responded with a well-organised effort to head off any bogus approval for a mine that, if it proceeds, will destroy their livelihoods and way of life.
This rundown of recent events gives an idea of the cat-and-mouse game that has played out amongst the fertile fields of Jharkhand.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Arrest warrant served on AdaniWatch contributor due to Adani defamation case in Blog 2022-10-20 10:23:24 +1100
Journalist hit by arrest warrant due to Adani defamation move
The Adani Group has mounted a defamation case against freelance journalist Ravi Nair who is based in Delhi. Nair has been a frequent contributor to AdaniWatch. The complaint against Nair was filed in the court of Gandhinagar in Adani’s home state of Gujarat and is dated 19 August 2021.
Adani’s case against Nair ostensibly pertains to 26 tweets, but his hard-hitting contributions to AdaniWatch also feature in Adani’s complaint. The vast majority of the tweets clearly constitute expressions of opinion on matters already in the public domain.
The Delhi Union of Journalists condemned this attack on Nair. In a media release referring to Nair’s case and another, the union said ‘these attacks constitute a continuum of attacks and threats to independent journalists and journalism in India today’.
In the month preceding the filing of Adani’s complaint, Nair had authored stories on the Group’s troubled Pench coal-power project and on the shadowy players involved in offshore investors in Adani companies. The content of these stories was compelling. Adani Enterprises Limited has not explicitly included these AdaniWatch articles as part of its complaint, but the timing of the case and the innocuous nature of the material on which the complaint purports to be based suggest that the AdaniWatch stories constitute a significant part of the motivation behind Adani’s defamation case against Nair.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Protests put the wind up renewable-energy companies in Gujarat in Blog 2022-04-20 08:51:32 +1000
Protests put the wind up renewable-energy companies in Gujarat
The mass installation of wind turbines in the Indian state of Gujarat is causing havoc for pastoralists, animals and the ecology. Because much of the land in question has been officially categorised as ‘wasteland’, the usual controls on development do not apply. Protests by traditional users of the land have already prevented one company from completing a wind-energy project. Will Adani be the next culprit?
According to a report in Mongabay, the district of Kachchh in the north-western Indian state of Gujarat has been targeted for wind-energy development because of its favourable geology and climate. The report quotes an Indian wind-energy authority’s assessment that Gujarat has the capacity to produce over 22% of India’s wind energy.
The lands intended for the erection of wind turbines are not uninhabited. Though arid, they are the traditional pastures used by generations of pastoralists. The thorny scrubland provides habitat for species such as the desert cat, hyena, fox, nilgai, spiny-tailed lizard and desert monitor.
According to the Mongabay report, these woodlands have been officially mis-categorised as ‘wasteland’ by India’s national forest department. This means that provisions designed to protect forest habitats from unregulated development do not apply.
As a result, natural vegetation and even hillocks have been flattened to make way for wind turbines. Local people are aghast. They are losing important grazing land and forest resources. The area’s cherished peacocks have been electrocuted by the dozen. Noise pollution has plagued some settlements.
When protests against these incursions occurred in 2021, one of the companies concerned abandoned work on its unfinished wind turbines.
Adani Green Energy Limited has gained approval for development of wind turbines in the area but has yet to commence construction. Gujarat is the home state of the Group’s founder, Gautam Adani, and the massive conglomerate is used to getting its way when it comes to controversial port expansions and coal-power stations. It remains to be seen whether the Group will respond any differently when it comes to local concerns about the impacts of industrial-scale wind power.
AdaniWatch supports the development of renewable energy in India but unless proponents such as the Adani Group's companies consult meaningfully with the local people affected, the entire industry could be brought into disrepute.
Geoff Law published Is Adani complying with court order to save Great Indian Bustard from transmission lines? in Blog 2022-04-13 09:01:20 +1000
Is Adani complying with court order to save Great Indian Bustard from transmission lines?
A directive by India’s highest court could affect recent works by Adani on large solar-power installations in the state of Rajasthan. The court has directed the state to file reports on the progress in complying with an order made last April to place new power lines underground. The measure is required to protect the Great Indian Bustard, an endangered species that requires the arid grasslands of Rajasthan for its survival. It is believed that at least one major solar-power project in Rajasthan has not complied with the directive.
Adani has a number of solar-power projects in Rajasthan. In August 2021, protests broke out against a solar project’s alleged encroachment on to tribal grazing lands. The offending entity was alleged to be a joint venture between Adani Green and JV Rajasthan Solar Park Company Limited, a corporation owned by the Rajasthan state government.
Recently, the Supreme Court directed Rajasthan to file its compliance reports with last year’s directive regarding power lines and the Great Indian Bustard. ET Energy World has reported environmentalists saying that Rajasthan officials could be ‘in a fix’ because at least some power lines were believed to have been erected above ground.
The court’s ruling arose from a public-interest case seeking to protect the Great Indian Bustard from lethal electrocution caused by collisions with power-transmission cables. Such deaths are a significant threat to birds. A government study found that five birds per kilometre of power line die every month in the desert region. For a critically endangered species such as the bustard, every human-induced death pushes it closer to extinction.
The Supreme Court ruled that in notified parts of the bird’s habitat, all future power-transmission cables, including those that would serve an Adani solar installation, are to be laid underground.
Now, the Rajasthan government has to explain to the Supreme Court how (or indeed, whether) it has complied with this order. If the transmission lines associated with new solar arrays have been installed above ground, there could be penalties that affect the viability of these projects.
Geoff Law published Call for international finance boycott after Adani says it will self-finance coal port in Blog 2022-03-29 09:29:08 +1100
Call for international finance boycott after Adani says it will self-finance coal port
International finance companies have been urged to cut ties with the entire Adani Group due to its practice of financing controversial coal operations with funds from other Adani entities. This is how Adani has sidestepped what is effectively an international financial boycott of its Carmichael coal project. Revelations that Adani will self-fund the refinancing of its Abbot Point coal port have prompted the call to cut ties.
This story is sourced from a post by climate-campaign group Market Forces.
According to a note published on 14 March, the Moody’s ratings agency has indicated that the Adani Group has told the agency that an external finance company will not be refinancing US $500m of bonds issued by its Abbot Point coal port. Instead, the funds will come from within the Adani Group. The US $500 million worth of bonds mature in December 2022. They help pay for Adani’s lease of the North Queensland Export Terminal (NQXT).
NQXT (rebranded from Adani Abbot Point Terminal) is the port via which all coal mined from the Adani Carmichael coal mine will be exported; it is therefore an integral part of the notorious Carmichael project.
According to Moody’s, Adani plans to self-fund the refinancing. ‘Moody’s understands from NQXT’s management that the bonds will be refinanced via a drawdown on a subordinated shareholder facility, which is being funded by its sponsor’. In plain English, this means that Adani is planning to refinance the debt with funds from within the wider corporate structure of the massive Adani Group.
The Adani Group is a sprawling conglomeration of businesses engaged in ports, airports, real estate, palm oil, logistics, agriculture, power generation, solar energy, power transmission and, of course, coal mining. Analysts say that financing of any of the Group's companies helps free up funds for operations that would otherwise struggle for finance - such as the Carmichael mine and its associated coal port at Abbot Point.
Adani’s purchase of a 99-year lease for the port from the Queensland government in 2011 was debt-funded, and it has since struggled to refinance that debt on several occasions. The Moody’s note also says that Adani has already contributed US $359 million to NQXT since 2020, mainly for the refinancing of previous maturing debts for which it was unable to raise external funds.
It is not known from where this cash originated before being paid to NQXT via its Singapore-based sponsor, and it is not known from where exactly within the Adani conglomerate these new funds will come.
(Story continues below)
Geoff Law published Tour de Carmichael May 2022 - call for participants in Blog 2022-03-28 09:23:04 +1100
Tour de Carmichael May 2022 - call for participants
Coedie McAvoy, son of cultural elder Adrian Burragubba, has made the following call for participants in this year's 'Tour de Carmichael', a five-day cultural tour on pushbikes through country impacted by Adani's destructive Carmichael coal project:
Waddamuli wanggarrayn! Hello everyone!
Ngadyu narri Coedie. My name is Coedie.
As a Wangan and Jagalingou man, I invite you to come to my Country.
I am writing to you from Waddananggu, where we have occupied Wangan and Jagalingou homelands for over six months now, opposite the Adani/Bravus Carmichael mine pit.
For over 200 days and 200 nights we have been re-occupying our land. Despite Adani’s attempts to remove and antagonise us, we have continued our cultural ceremony unhindered. And we have made history – our rights to practise our culture on a mining lease have now been recognised under Queensland human-rights laws.
I am inviting you to join me on my homelands for the Annual Tour De Carmichael – Cycle for Country on Wangan and Jagalingou land from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th of May 2022.
Tour De Carmichael is not a protest but a guided cultural tour on pushbikes. Come and learn about the significant sites and how they relate to Wangan & Jagalingou people. We will be holding cultural workshops at different campsites at the end of each day.
Tour De Carmichael - Cycle for Country
WHAT: 5-day, 100-km guided cycle tour led by me, Coedie, son of Adrian Burragubba, to learn about Wangan and Jagalingou culture and see what’s at risk from Adani’s destructive mega coal mine. The tour is family friendly and is working with the Queensland Police Service to provide a safe environment. We will have support vehicles driving behind that can carry water, food and camping gear.
WHEN: Monday 23rd May – Friday 27th May 2022.
WHERE: Wangan and Jagalingou country in central Queensland. The bike ride begins at the corner of the Gregory Highway and Elgin Road, with the finish line being the Waddananggu ceremony in front of the Adani Carmichael mine pit. We will be stopping at different camps along the way to break up the Tour.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Formal Complaint lodged with Securities and Exchange Board of India re de-listing of Adani Power Limited in Blog 2022-03-24 09:07:42 +1100
Formal Complaint lodged with Securities and Exchange Board of India re de-listing of Adani Power Limited
In December 2021, Mahua Moitra MP submitted a formal complaint to the Board in which she alleges that there are reasonable grounds for the Board to investigate whether the Adani Group has breached securities laws. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been examining Adani's proposed de-listing of Adani Power Limited for more than eight months.
Adani Power Ltd (APL) is one of India’s largest producers of coal-based power. It is headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the home state of the founder of the Adani Group, Gautam Adani.
In June 2020, APL announced that it planned to de-list from the Indian stock exchange through a voluntary buyback of shares by Group company Adani Properties. The objectives given were that the delisting would:
- Allow Adani Properties gain total ownership of Adani Power.
- Improve APL’s strategic, operational and financial flexibility.
At the time, holdings in APL by Adani Group entities stood at just under 75%, with just over 25% being held by ‘public shareholders’. Under the law, a minimum of 25% of any public company must be owned by public shareholders – that is, shareholders not owned by the company’s promoters.
It was reported that the board of APL set Rs. 33.82 per share as the floor price for APL shares – a price reported as being 11% below the then market value.
According to the complaint, APL required a two-thirds majority vote in favour of the delisting from its independent shareholders (who constituted just over 25% of all shareholdings). On 24 July 2020, it was reported that the necessary majority of shareholders had given a green light to the delisting.
However, in 2021 the delisting was put under a cloud by a number of developments.
In June 2021, there was a dramatic crash in the value of shares of six Adani Group companies, including APL, following reports of a freeze on three Mauritius-based investment funds with significant holdings in the Group companies concerned. The Adani Group described the report as ‘blatantly erroneous’ and the share prices generally bounced back. However, this episode led to revelations about some of the Group’s investors.
On 19 July 2021 junior finance minister Pankaj Chaudhary stated under Parliamentary privilege that SEBI was investigating several Adani Group companies regarding compliance with securities laws. At the time the company denied being in receipt of any recent enquiries from SEBI.
In addition, questions were raised over the credibility of certain foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in Adani Group companies, including APL. In two stories for AdaniWatch, independent journalist Ravi Nair described the complex lines of ownership and association between some of these ‘shadowy offshore investors’ and various dubious operators. Some of these foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), or foreign institutional investors (FIIs), are based in tax havens such as Mauritius and Cyprus.
One of these AdaniWatch stories was cited by Moitra in her December 2021 complaint to SEBI.
Amongst other things, Moitra alleged:
- APL’s public shareholding was ‘murky’, with FIIs holding 12.7% of the company – a very significant part of the minimum public shareholding of 25%.
- That many of the FIIs had a very high proportion of their assets invested in Adani companies such as APL, with little variation in this proportion over the years.
- APL had negligible percentage of holding by Domestic Institutional Investors such as mutual funds, which are known to be vigilant on behalf of their ‘small-time investors’.
Moitra‘s compliant urged SEBI to:
- Order an immediate investigation into the ownership of the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIls) which hold significant public shareholding in APL;
- Reject the de-listing proposal made by APL;
- Impose fines and penalties on APL for any critical violations of the SEBI Regulations in accordance with SEBI’s powers;
- Take appropriate action for any proven violations of the SEBI Act and SEBI Regulations.
Geoff Law published Peak body calls on Indian Government to scrap Adani coal project at Gondalpura in Blog 2022-03-22 08:53:24 +1100
Peak body calls on Indian Government to scrap Adani coal project at Gondalpura
India’s peak body representing civil society has called on the Modi Government to cancel Adani’s approval to obliterate villages in the Gondalpura area for a massive coal mine. The proposed coal project, mis-named Gondulpara by Adani, would destroy five villages as well as associated farmland, forest and watercourses. Inhabitants of the area have repelled attempts by Adani and the government to do preparatory works on the coal project.
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has expressed support for struggling villagers and demanded withdrawal of a proposed coal-mining project in the state of Jharkhand in order to protect farms, forests and biodiversity. In a statement, NAPM said the proposed Gondulpara coal mine ‘is likely to obliterate over 500 hectares of farms, dwellings and forests, generating over 229 million tonnes of solid waste. At least five villages including Gondalpura, Phulang, Hahe, Balodar and Gali would be affected adversely by the project.’
NAPM said it is distressing that governments have paid no heed to the grave concerns raised by the indigenous villagers who are keen to safeguard local resources from destruction.
The Gondalpura coal block, with an estimated 176 million tonnes of coal reserves, was acquired by Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) in November 2020 as part of the Modi Government’s controversial auction of 41 coal blocks.
Attempts were made by the company to gain environmental approvals and to initiate project work in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic. Surveyors sent to Gondalpura were reportedly chased off by the villagers on a couple of occasions in the latter half of 2021. The villagers of Gali and their forest-protection committee also formally objected to proposals of the government seeking consent for preliminary works in December 2021.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published Adani told to identify contractors allegedly scared off by threat of actions by Ben Pennings in Blog 2022-03-18 09:20:16 +1100
Adani told to identify contractors allegedly scared off by threat of actions by Ben Pennings
Last week, climate campaigner Ben Pennings gained a tactical victory in his tussle with Adani in the courts. A judge of the Queensland Supreme Court ordered Adani to identify those companies that had allegedly stopped negotiating for works on the Carmichael mine project due to the prospect of non-violent direct action by Galilee Blockade.
The relevant Adani company has alleged that an unspecified number of contractors terminated their negotiations on the project, thereby costing the company money. Since November 2020, Ben Pennings has been asking Adani to specify those contractors so he could be appraised of the case he needed to defend. Adani had previously been criticised for its 'attack dog legal strategy', seeking to organise a raid on Pennings's home, and organising surveillance of Pennings's young family.
The court previously said that Adani must be able to identify ‘the class of individuals or organisations in respect of which these fractures have occurred’ and that provision of the information ‘would at least provide [Pennings] with the sort of focus that will allow him to discharge his obligation of disclosure’.
That was confirmed by the court on 10 March 2022, in orders which require Adani to identify, by April 8:
- the identity of those contractors (or sub-contractors);
- the negotiations that would have been undertaken or were terminated;
- details of the demands and threats that allegedly led to the contractors terminating negotiations.
‘After all this time, I’m so happy that Adani has to identify which contractors they allege backed out of their dirty coal project due to the peaceful actions of Galilee Blockade,' said Mr Pennings. 'Adani specified in court they plan to seek documents from contractors through the non-party disclosure process. I hope this information progresses the case so that I can win this important legal battle against a multi-billionaire bully.’
‘This is all happening at a time when the impacts of coal and climate change are literally flooding the east coast of Australia. New coal mines mean further climate chaos.’
‘Adani were awarded some costs for some parts of the 27 August 2021 hearing. Adani has previously sought an exorbitant amount and that costs process is ongoing. So far, I have not paid a single cent of Adani’s legal costs.’
From a media release by Ben Pennings, 10 March 2022.
Geoff Law published London museum claims on Adani sponsorship refuted in Blog 2022-02-17 08:37:56 +1100
London museum claims on Adani sponsorship refuted
The Coal Action Network in the UK has taken on the London Science Museum over its sponsorship deal with Adani. A ‘green energy gallery’ is to be sponsored by Adani Green, leading to a string of protests outside the museum. Members of the museum’s board of trustees have also resigned in protest.
The Science Museum Group has attempted to defend the sponsorship. However, in a message to supporters, the Coal Action Network has refuted the arguments of this body and its spokespeople in strong statements reproduced below:
The Science Museum Group stated that it ‘respects the rights of all people and is committed to engaging the public on climate change.’
The claim that the Science Museum Group (SMG) respects Indigenous rights is laughable. The scale of human-rights abuses the SMG is supporting through its sponsorship deal with Adani directly contradicts any claim to this.
During a BBC Front Row interview, the museum's Director Ian Blatchford was asked to respond to comments made by Adrian Burragubba, a Traditional Owner of land who opposed Adani’s Carmichael mine in Australia, that ‘by putting this company on a pedestal, the Science Museum is complicit in Adani’s violation of our Human Rights and destruction of our ancestral lands.’
Blatchford decided to defend Adani’s coal business by dismissing Burragubba’s comments, questioning their validity, and suggesting that they were exaggerated: ‘Well, Adani and their coal interests in Australia do get accused of a whole variety of things, but the company would push back very strongly on those accusations… So, although you’re quoting one voice, I would not say that that is a definitive intervention on the issue, because we’ve thought about two things: not only [Adani’s] response to that and the truth of it – and there is certainly a great tendency for some campaigners to exaggerate very significantly those issues – but also we’re looking at other voices.’
In response, Indigenous people sent a letter to the Science Museum Group calling on its leadership to listen to Indigenous peoples’ concerns about its new sponsorship deal. The letter received a swift response from Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group’s Trustees. Did she listen to the concerns raised? Her critics say ‘no’.
She begins by trying to shift responsibility: ‘Your letter makes some very specific allegations about the activities of Adani Mining. I feel that these are questions for that company, and also the relevant national governments.’Read more
Geoff Law published London Science Museum under increasing fire for Adani sponsorship in Blog 2022-01-31 09:26:09 +1100
London Science Museum under increasing fire for Adani sponsorship
Environment groups and indigenous people have stepped up the pressure on the London Science Museum to dump its sponsorship deal with Adani. Protests outside the museum have included a large ‘ad van’ screening a rejection of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine by a cultural elder from Australia’s W&J people. India’s Hasdeo forests, threatened by Adani coal mines, also featured in the rowdy demonstrations.
In October 2021, the London Science Museum announced that the Adani Group would be sponsoring a gallery on green energy, a move that sparked angry protests outside the museum as well as resignations from the museum’s board of trustees. In 2022, the campaign to persuade the museum to dump the sponsorship deal has continued.
This powerful video, played outside the museum on an ad van, tells people why Adani’s sponsorship is unacceptable:
Via the video, people in London heard from Wangan & Jagalingou cultural elder, Adrian Burragubba, about the effects of Adani's Carmichael Mine on the area's traditional owners.
Protesters from campaign organisation Culture Unstained chanted ‘Science Museum Drop Adani’ in both Hindi and English:
Culture Unstained on Twitter: "Chanting in Hindi outside the @sciencemuseum in solidarity with Adivasi communities resisting @AdaniOnline! #stopadani #dropadani #adivasisagainstcoal https://t.co/egToBoZeZE" / Twitter
The protests opposed the takeover of the ancestral lands of the indigenous people of the Hasdeo forests for a series of Adani coal mines. The video also featured footage from the Indian state of Jharkhand where local people are opposing a proposed new Adani coal mine with all their strength.
The Coal Action Network says that leaders from indigenous communities in Australia, India and Indonesia wrote to the museum to warn them that its agreement with Adani is legitimising its ‘destructive coal expansion activities’ and that ‘indigenous communities in all these countries are experiencing land-grabs, repression, the destruction of sacred lands, pollution of air, land and water...’.
AdaniWatch has reported on the museum’s sponsorship deal with Adani since last November.
Tweets from Extinction Rebellion UK on the protests outside the science museum can be seen here:
🗣 Add your voice by writing to the Science Museum now. Help us to convince them to drop Adani as a sponsor.
Geoff Law published ‘Scrap banking deal with Adani’ says expert commission to Reserve Bank of India in Blog 2022-01-28 08:40:18 +1100
‘Scrap SBI-Adani banking deal’ says expert commission to Reserve Bank of India
An Indian government policy that enables large corporations to lend money with the backing of India’s state bank has been slammed by a commission of experts. In January 2022, the Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services urged authorities to reverse the policy, including a deal between the State Bank of India and the Adani Group. The experts and its supporters warn the policy paves the way for India’s large corporate conglomerates to gain even more power over the lives of farmers and other small enterprises.
This is the text of the Commission’s statement which has been backed by over 70 NGOs and prominent people:
Demand to Reverse the SBI-Adani Capital Deal
16 January 2022
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should reverse its policy with regard to allowing Non-Banking Financial Companies (like Adani Capital) to have tie-ups with Public Sector banks (PSBs), like the State Bank of India, for co-lending to farmers and other small borrowers. The undersigned demand an immediate reversal of this arrangement as it will have serious implications for the public.
The immediate context
There are reports in the media that the State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest bank, has signed a master agreement with Adani Capital, belonging to the Adani Group, for co-lending to farmers. Ostensibly, the arrangement is for the purchase of inputs including tractors and farm implements in order to ‘increase efficiency in farm operations and improve productivity of crops’. We outline below our multiple apprehensions with regard to such an ill-fated move and it is our appeal that the RBI steps in to reconsider and roll back.
The SBI is the largest bank in India with 22,219 branches, 245,652 staff and 71,968 business correspondents, with a track record unparalleled in the history of banking in the country and, like other PSBs, is driven by the social objectives of the nation. PSBs like the SBI have had a great role in reducing income inequalities, minimising regional imbalances, ensuring affirmative action to correct historic injustices, and so on. On the other hand, private Non-Banking Financial Companies’ (NBFC) capacity and operations are very limited and are driven exclusively by their overarching objective of maximising profits. We wish to express our deep concern at the RBI, whether deliberately or otherwise, contributing to this unfortunate situation in which small borrowers, especially those in the informal sector of the economy, have paid a heavy price.
- We are rather alarmed by the fact that while the RBI has itself cancelled licences and even blacklisted a large number of NBFCs (1701 in 2019 alone), it has permitted this arrangement of co-lending by banks and NBFCs.
- The RBI, as the banking-sector regulator, has repeatedly urged banks to lend more to NBFCs. Incidentally, such loans also qualify for Priority Sector lending targets set for banks. An arrangement such as the one cited here paves the way for NBFCs owned and controlled by the large business conglomerates to make a backdoor entry into the unorganized sector on a much larger scale, riding on the back of a banking behemoth, the SBI.
- The banking-sector regulator has stipulated that NBFCs provide at least 20% of the loan amount. Moreover, they are to do online verification of Know Your Customer (KYC) Identification, storage of data, capture live images, pay e-stamp duty, report credit information and other such functions. In effect, these stipulations ensure that the NBFCs become the first point of contact for borrowers which in the long run is disadvantageous to the borrowers, exposing them to greater risks.
- Small borrowers would be totally dependent on the NBFCs, a situation comparable to the pre-nationalisation era when money lenders and traders controlled most of the lending to farming and small businesses, charging usurious rates of interest to the farmers’ detriment.
- It appears appropriate lessons have not been drawn, while taking such a move, from the fiasco since 1991 of allowing the entry of private promoters in the banking sector, which has resulted in the defrauding of depositors. In fact, several public-sector banks were forced to take over such banks in order to protect the interests of depositors. The subsequent entry of inadequately regulated NBFCs and the crisis that followed, especially at the hands of micro-financing agencies, which drove thousands of small borrowers to suicide is still fresh in memory.
- Worryingly, we find that some of the NBFCs belong to groups of companies owned and controlled by corporate houses that are already heavily indebted to the public-sector banks. Persuading the latter to co-lend with such NBFCs would involve a conflict of interest that could adversely affect the interests of the banks’ depositors.
(Story continues below)Read more
Geoff Law published NQXT exposed as focal point in Adani’s expanding coal agenda in Blog 2022-01-20 08:47:00 +1100
NQXT exposed as focal point in Adani’s expanding coal agenda
The campaign group Market Forces has published an exposé of Adani’s coal port in north Queensland. The website emphasises the role played by the NQXT port in facilitating the development of Adani’s infamous Carmichael mine and associated impacts on the Earth’s climate, the area’s indigenous peoples, and the Great Barrier Reef. Adani Ports have also been removed from the UN's 'Race to Zero' campaign.
Adani’s North Queensland Export Terminal (NQXT) at Abbot Point used to be called Adani Abbot Point Terminal. In 2020, with Adani’s reputation on the slide, the name was changed with words such as ‘Adani’ and ‘coal’ completely dropped. A similar exercise was carried out for the Carmichael mine, with its corporate owner changing the name from Adani Mining to Bravus Mining and Resources.
According to Market Forces, NQXT, in Queensland, Australia, is a deep-water coal terminal situated amongst ecologically significant wetlands and sacred sites of the Juru Traditional Owners. The port and its operations impinge on the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage property. It is Australia’s northern-most coal port, with a capacity of 50 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).
And in a blow to the Adani Group's attempts to greenwash its reputation, it has been removed from the UN's list of participating companies in its 'Race to Zero' campaign.
Many Traditional Owners fear that the Carmichael coal project will put nearby sacred springs at risk. Export of Carmichael coal from NQXT will increase industrialisation in the already distressed Great Barrier Reef. Most significantly, the emissions to be generated by the mine’s coal have been estimated at 4.6 billion tonnes of CO2, equivalent to over eight years of Australia’s annual greenhouse emissions, fuelling more intense impacts of climate change.
NQXT has been fined twice, in 2017 and 2019, for releasing contaminated water into the surrounding ocean and Caley Valley wetlands.
The Queensland Government sold NQXT to the Adani Group in 2011 for A$1.8 billion (in the form of a 99-year lease). This purchase appears to have been entirely funded by debt. NQXT has had some difficulty refinancing this debt as financiers cut ties due to their reluctance to be associated with the Carmichael coal mine. A bond issue planned for early 2020 was cancelled and the company had to repay $270 million for two debt tranches due in 2020 using the Adani Group’s own funds.
Financiers that have pledged to have no dealings with Adani’s Carmichael coal project and/or NQXT include Samsung Securities, Hanwha Investment and Securities, Korea Investment and Securities, the Industrial Bank of Korea, Mirae Asset Daewoo, Bank of New York Mellon, and bond arrangers Investec and CLSA.