Geoff Law

  • 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.

    A typical Gujarat mosaic of semi-arid farmland and communal woodlands. Image Google

    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.


  • 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.

    A protest in 2021 against the alleged encroachment of an Adani solar-energy joint venture on to ancestral grazing lands. Image Down to Earth

    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.

    An array of solar cells blanketing arid grasslands in Rajasthan. Image NSE Energy

    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.

     


  • 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.

    The infamous Carmichael coal project has been opposed by cultural elders from the Wangan & Jagalingou people such as Adrian Burragubba.

    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.

    Coal trains en route from the Carmichael coal project to Adani's NQXT port have been blockaded by courageous climate campaigners. Image Anna Brozek @anna.ontheground

    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)

     

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  • 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.

    The 2022 Tour de Carmichael will run from 23 to 27 May on the lands of the W&J people.

    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.

    The 2021 launch of the Tour de Carmichael - this year's event promises to be even bigger.

    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)

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  • 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.

    A formal complaint has been lodged with the regulator regarding the proposed de-listing of Adani Power Limited. Image NS Energy

    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.

    An Adivasi farmer at his family grave plot. Just over the fence, on land taken from the Adivasi, is the massive Godda coal-fired power station, being built by a subsidiary of Adani Power Limited. Photo Geoff Law

    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.

    Community leaders opposing the proposed Pench coal-fired power plant protest after several of them were bashed, allegedly by people associated with the Adani Power Limited subsidiary responsible for the project.

    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.

    Mahua Moitra MP cited AdaniWatch stories on the convoluted corporate structure of various investors in Adani companies in her complaint.

    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.

    End.


  • 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.’

    A scene of village, forests and fields near Gondalpura, an area threatened by a huge Adani coal mine.

    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.

    Villagers gather to oppose Adani's 'Gondulpara' coal project. Various Adani officials have been run out of town.

    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)

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  • 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.

    Adani's Carmichael coal project has provoked one of the biggest environmental campaigns Australia has seen. Image Flickr

    ‘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.


  • 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.’

    Indigenous Adivasi people of India's Hasdeo forests march in protest against Adani's proposed coal mines in their ancestral lands. Image Vijay Ramamurthy.

    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.’

    An ad van with indigenous elder Adrian Burragubba rejecting Adani's Carmichael coal mine during a protest outside the London Science Museum

    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.’

    A protest supporting indigenous W&J rights against the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

    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.’

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  • 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: 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk7DZ7N6IsI

    Protesters against Adani's sponsorship of the London Science Museum used an ad van to screen a video of indigenous opposition to Adani in Australia and India.

    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.

    'We have been robbed of our human rights' says Adrian Burragubba, cultural elder of the W&J 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.

    Protesters in the Indian state of Jharkhand oppose Adani's proposed Gondulpara (sic) coal mine.

    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...’.

    People of India's Hasdeo forests marched over 300 km in 2021 to save their ancestral lands from a barrage of Adani coal mines.

    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:

    https://twitter.com/XRebellionUK/status/1432030742771556353

    🗣 Add your voice by writing to the Science Museum now. Help us to convince them to drop Adani as a sponsor.


  • ‘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 Reserve Bank of India has been called upon to reverse its policy of allowing non-banking finance companies, such as an Adani Group company, to lend to small operators with the backing of the State Bank of India. Image Economic Times

    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.

    Finance companies such as Adani's would enjoy the support of the massive taxpayer-backed State Bank of India in lending to small holdings across India. Getty Images

    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.

    Allowing Adani to lend money to farmers with the financial backing of the State Bank of India could be disastrous, say experts

    • 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.

    Small borrowers would become dependent on non-banking finance companies such as Adani's under the heavily criticised deal. Image FoodTank

    • 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)

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  • 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.

    The Market Forces exposé of Adani's NQXT coal port. Courtesy Market Forces

    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.

    Adani's massive coal terminal (NQXT) at Abbot Point, Queensland, Australia. Image Google


  • Villagers fight land takeover for Adani’s Gondulpara coal mine

    ‘This is my land, my house and I will not let them do this survey!’ The inhabitants of threatened villages in northern India have successfully repelled surveyors and prevented an attempted takeover of land for a proposed new Adani coal mine.  Hundreds have attended protest meetings in Gondalpura and neighbouring villages, objecting to preparatory work. Villagers have threatened to detain and tie up surveyors and other officials who enter the area without permission.

    In November 2020, Adani won the right to develop a coal deposit that occurs under villages and forests at Gondalpura in the northern Indian state of Jharkhand.  (Adani has misspelled the name of the area as ‘Gondulpara’ so this is the name that attaches to its coal project.) The coal resources here are largely undeveloped and the inhabitants want to keep it that way.

    A rural scene near Balodar - threatened by Adani's proposed Gondulpara coal mine

    This news video demonstrates the vehemence of the local reaction against Adani:

    वनाधिकार समिति की ग्राम सभा में अडानी निजि कोल कंपनी का ग्रामीणों ने किया विरोध । - YouTube

    Late last year, inhabitants of one of the threatened villages were told by the District Commissioner that a village meeting was being convened for 31 December to facilitate the handover of communal lands to Adani Enterprises. The category of the land in question is known as Gair Majurwa land, has no defined title-holders, and has been used for generations by the region’s inhabitants for grazing and the collection of firewood.

    Outraged at the impending loss of this essential resource, the people demanded that the proposed meeting (a Gram Sabha) be cancelled.

    ‘All the people of our village depend on this land for their livelihoods,’ said a protest letter to the local government. ‘We, the people of Gali forest and the protection committee of Gali, including all the villagers, oppose this Gram Sabha being called for benefit of Adani. Therefore, I humbly request you to cancel the Gram Sabha scheduled on 31 December 2021.’

    Villagers from Gali, Gondalpura and Balodar meet to oppose Adani's Gondulpara (sic) coal mine

    The meeting did not proceed; the lands remain communal. Nevertheless, this ham-fisted attempt to obtain formal approval for the takeover shows how government forces are being deployed on behalf of Adani’s coal project.

    It was not the first time officialdom has been given a bloody nose by irate villagers. In December 2021, local media reported on a meeting of people from Gondalpura and the nearby villages of Gali and Balodar to protest against a door-to-door survey being conducted in preparation for work on Adani’s proposed Gondulpara coal mine.

    A local media report on the people's petition opposing takeover of communal lands for an Adani coal mine.

    Spokespeople said that the survey was being conducted by middlemen working for ‘NABARD’, which Google identifies as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.

    One villager at the meeting, Kamalesh Mahato, said ‘this is my land, my house, and I will not let these agents do this survey!’

    This attitude is widespread. On 18 October 2021, AdaniWatch published videos showing a rowdy confrontation between officials and local people vehemently opposed to the proposed coal mines. Tense encounters between villagers and those carrying out preparations for mining have continued.

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  • 'The adrenaline is just pumping' - how it feels to confront a giant Adani coal train

    Adani has started transporting coal from its infamous Carmichael mine. However, this has not stopped the resistance to the Adani Group’s climate-wrecking projects in Queensland. On the contrary, over the past week, protests have stepped up. News reports have brought images of these daring actions to the general public but often don’t communicate how it feels to be there on the ground. To look at the human side of one of these protests, AdaniWatch spoke to Georgie Toner, a 27-year-old post-graduate student from Brisbane who helped stop a huge Adani coal train on 30 November 2021.

    Georgie was woken at 4 am by loud clanging noises.

    ‘There’s a train! There’s a train!’

    She scrambled in the back of her van to gather the things she needed to ‘lock on’. She and her friends were about to confront a locomotive towing at least 30 carriages from Adani’s Carmichael mine to the coast. The cargo was coal and this was one of several test-runs for trains travelling on a brand new railway.

    Georgie Toner, 27, and her friends confronted and stopped a giant coal train en route from Adani's Carmichael coal mine to the coast.

    The protest crew had been on alert for a train for some time but this one had somehow escaped the attention of their monitors. It was spotted almost by chance by one of the veterans of Camp Binbee. The loud noise that had awoken Georgie was the warning gong, used in situations of extreme urgency.

    Georgie drove as part of a group of vehicles attempting to intercept the train. There was some frantic back and forth in the dark until the train’s location was determined. Fortuitously, given the train’s intended journey of hundreds of kilometres, it was intercepted only about 10 minutes’ drive from the camp.

    ‘Divine intervention’, laughed Georgie.

    Two protesters attached themselves to the train tracks well ahead of the train. Meanwhile, the rail-transport company, Aurizon, had been alerted.

    Two climate campaigners attach themselves to the railway in the path of an Adani coal train only minutes away. Anna Brozek @anna.ontheground

    By the time Georgie arrived on the scene, the train had stopped, other protesters had attached themselves to the back carriage of the train, and police were in attendance. They stopped the car she was in and searched it for ‘dangerous attachment devices’ – the equipment used by protesters for locking on to coal-industry infrastructure. In Queensland, special legislation has deemed that the use of such tools is a criminal offence. No devices were found so Georgie’s car was turned away.

    She tried to find another way to access the train. It was not long after sunrise but the temperature was already pushing 30 degrees Celsius. The country through which she travelled was typical of central Queensland – flat and arid with scattered trees. Recent rain had added a thin greenery to the ground but the creek beds were dry. Eventually, Georgie parked near one of these creeks which she and her companion were able to follow back towards the still stationary train. The creek bed was deep enough for them to scurry below the eye-line of police and train workers.

    The Adani coal train. Image Megan Byrnes

    Eventually they had to make a mad dash in the open across fallen trees to the rail corridor. Police and an Aurizon employee were in view so the two campaigners took cover and waited until the coast was clear before sprinting across two vacant railway tracks to the train.

    ‘Obviously the adrenaline is just pumping,’ Georgie said. ‘Definitely a high-pressure situation and not pleasant on the nervous system.’

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  • ‘Make India’s Hasdeo forests a ‘no go’ zone for coal mines’, says prominent state minister

    A prominent member of the Chhattisgarh government has said he wants the biodiverse Hasdeo forests to be declared a ‘no go’ zone for coal mining, even as the government of which he is a part is pushing for more mines. The call came in response to the leaking of a report by an expert scientific institution in India recommending against expanded coal mining in the area. The report warned that coal mining would further fragment the Hasdeo forests, leading to human-elephant conflict that the state government would struggle to mitigate. Adani is a major developer of coal mines in the Hasdeo forests, which are also home to tribal people who oppose the mining.

    The Hasdeo forests (‘the Hasdeo Aranya’) occupy 180,000 ha in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and are home to more than 80 species of tree and a diverse array of mammals, fish, reptiles and birds. Indigenous tribal people (Adivasi) have tended these forests, including sacred groves of trees, for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the Hasdeo forests also grow on top of a billion tonnes of coal.

    Coal mines, new roads and new transmission lines will exacerbate already deadly human-elephant conflicts in Chhattisgarh, according to the Wildlife Institute of India. Image Wikimedia

    Coal mining in the Hasdeo Aranya has been contentious from the outset. In 2011, the central government’s environment ministry gave the go-ahead to the Parsa East Kente Basan (PEKB) coal mine, despite advice to the contrary by the government’s Forest Advisory Committee.

    An Adani Group subsidiary commenced mining, but an appeal was mounted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) – India’s equivalent of an environment protection authority. The NGT ordered that advice should be sought from various bodies, including the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

    In November 2021, parts of the WII report were leaked to the Gaon Connection, which reported on the report’s warnings about the impacts of extended coal mining in the Hasdeo forests.

    The WII impact assessment considered several Hasdeo ‘coal blocks’. It noted that out of four highly biodiverse blocks identified, only the PEKB block is a currently operational coal mine. The report recommended that, since the PEKB mine is already operational, mining in the Hasdeo forests should be restricted to that one operation. It recommended that the other parts of the Hasdeo forests and the surrounding landscape should be declared ‘no-go areas’ to mining due to their ‘irreplaceable rich biodiversity and socio-cultural values’.

    T.S. Singh Deo, Minister for Health in the Chhattisgarh government, agrees that the Hasdeo forests should be a 'no go' zone for coal mining. Image courtesy Business Standard

    A senior member of the Chhattisgarh state government, health minister T.S. Singh Deo, responded to the report’s findings on Twitter.

    ‘A report by Wildlife Institute of India substantiates the stance of No-Go which is the only way to save Hasdeo region’ he tweeted. ‘I wish that these suggestions are implemented as policy decisions as had been done by UPA and @Jairam_Ramesh ji.’

    Meanwhile, the Chhattisgarh state government, of which Mr T.S. Singh Deo is a part, was pushing for accelerated approval for phase 2 of the PEKB mine.

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  • Nasty legal tactics by Adani Group quell freedom of speech in India

    The Adani Group’s pursuit of journalists and media outlets has intensified, with lawsuits initiated in two courts in Gujarat, the home state of Gautam Adani. These actions follow other defamation cases by Adani against activists, journalists and media platforms in India. The journalists concerned have been legally obliged to travel vast distances to attend court sessions in remote parts of India, despite dangers posed by the pandemic. These tactics follow the use of arrest warrants, gag orders, household raids and surveillance by authorities or Adani entities against critics of the Group’s business activities. Meanwhile, Gautam Adani is reported to have become Asia’s richest man.

    On 3 August 2021, the company Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (‘Adani Ports’) filed a defamation case against ‘Economic Times’ editor Bodhisatva Ganguli as well as journalists Pavan Burugula and Nehal Chaliawala. The case was filed in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gautam Adani’s home state of Gujarat. The allegedly defamatory story, published in June, said that a government regulatory body had frozen the accounts of three offshore companies that together held nearly US $6 billion worth of shares in Adani Group companies.

    The details of this story were also reported by AdaniWatch. A report on the lawsuit described above first appeared on 5 August in newslaundry.

    Adani Ports has filed a defamation case against journalists and an editor in the capital city of Gujarat, Gautam Adani's home state.

    Then, on 20 September 2021, a criminal case was filed in an obscure Gujarat court by Adani Transmission Ltd against journalists Latha Venkatesh and Nimesh Shah as well as TV18 Broadcast Ltd. The effect of this filing was to compel the journalists concerned to travel to a remote location in Gautam Adani’s home state of Gujarat to defend themselves against the claim, which pertained to the same stories as the above case. In criminal matters, personal appearance is required before the court for each hearing.

    Latha Venkatesh of CNBC TV18 is one of the most respected business journalists in India. She was summoned to Ahmedabad to discuss the story. Venkatesh, who was 62 years old, sought exemption from travel, especially given the prevailing COVID pandemic and requested that questioning be done through video conferencing. Her request was denied twice and she was directed to physically appear before the Crime Branch official in Ahmedabad. Since there was a threat of arrest, she had no option but to travel to get her statement recorded. The Crime Branch officials also wanted Nimesh Shah, another senior journalist involved with the CNBC TV18 story, to appear before them. They reportedly expressed displeasure that he did not appear even after they were informed that Nimesh did not receive any notice from them.

    Criminal case filed against a respected senior journalist in a remote part of Gujarat, compelling the journalist to travel during the pandemic.

    The tactics employed make it clear that journalists and media houses that publish stories not to the Group’s liking are being harassed by those in authority.

    Lenka Venkatesh - sued by an Adani company. Request for video questioning denied. Forced to travel to remote court during pandemic. Image Twitter

    One critic, who wished to remain anonymous, said that ‘it is regrettable that the police, instead of castigating the Adani Group, is acting as their hand maiden... the police and the judicial process (are putting) pressure on the media (to) discourage them from doing future stories on the Group and effectively pushing journalists towards self-censorship.’

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  • ‘Severe controversy’ – certifying body dumps Adani Ports due to coal link

    The Adani Group’s flagship company, Adani Ports, has been dumped from several indices that measure a corporation’s sustainability. The world’s largest provider of such services has judged that Adani Ports is embroiled in ‘severe controversy’ due to its physical and corporate links with Adani’s notorious Carmichael coal project. Climate campaigners have called for the entire Adani Group to be struck off such indices due to its inextricable involvement with expansion of the coal industry in India and Australia.

    In a media release, the campaign organisation Market Forces announced the dumping of Adani Ports:

    Major US investment research firm MSCI has announced to its clients that Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (Adani Ports) will be kicked off four MSCI climate indexes, after its links to the Carmichael thermal coal project in Australia escalated its score to ‘severe controversy’.

    Flooding of the rail link between Adani's Carmichael mine and Abbot Point in February 2021. Adani Ports owns the rail link, deemed a 'severe controversy' by MSCI research.

    MSCI is the world’s largest provider of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) indices which are designed to help investors integrate ESG or climate considerations into their portfolios.

    MSCI informed Market Forces that Adani Ports’ setting up of Bowen Rail Company, which will haul the coal extracted from the Carmichael mine, has resulted in Adani Ports being judged part of the ‘controversy’ associated with the notorious Carmichael coal project.

    A second email from MSCI to Market Forces confirmed the dumping of Adani Ports, meaning that Adani Ports will be removed from all Climate Change indices in which it is involved. These indices exclude companies with scores indicating controversies deemed to be ‘severe’ or ‘very severe’.

    MSCI told clients the four indices are:

    • 726305 – EM (EMERGING MARKETS) CLIMATE CHANGE
    • 726314 – AC ASIA PACIFIC CLIMATE CHANGE
    • 726316 – ACWI CLIMATE CHANGE
    • 734327 – ACWI IMI CLIMATE CHANGE

    This is not the first time Adani Ports has been removed from an ESG index. Standard and Poor’s removed the company from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in April 2021 due to its business links with the brutal Myanmar military. In addition, State Street excluded Adani Ports and Adani Enterprises from some MSCI-produced ESG indices it uses.

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  • Call for government to take over Adani's Mundra port in wake of seizures of drugs, radioactive materials

    Following seizures of heroin and radioactive materials at the Adani Group’s Mundra port, a senior journalist has called for a government takeover of the port.

    According to an Adani Ports media release:

    ‘On 18 Nov 2021, a joint Customs and DRI team seized several containers at Mundra port from a foreign vessel on concerns that they contained undeclared hazardous cargo. While the cargo was listed as Non-Hazardous, the seized containers had Hazard Class 7 markings (which indicate radioactive substances). Although the containers were not destined for Mundra Port or any other port in India but were en route from Karachi in Pakistan to Shanghai in China, the government authorities had them offloaded at Mundra Port for further inspection.’

    This followed the seizure in September of 3000 kg of heroin, also at Mundra port. According to Adani Ports:

    ‘On 16 Sep 2021, a joint operation by the DRI and Customs unearthed a large cache of contraband heroin from two containers from Afghanistan that had arrived at the Mundra International Container Terminal (MICT), Mundra Port. We thank and congratulate the DRI & Customs teams for seizing the illegal drugs and apprehending the accused.’

    Following the drug haul, said to be worth $2.7 billion (yes, billion), Adani Ports said it would no longer accept shipments at Mundra from the countries of Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan (reported last month by AdaniWatch).

    But the interception by officials of radioactive materials arriving in Mundra from Karachi in Pakistan (and bound for China) has prompted a call for the port to be taken over by the government.

    S. Balakrishnan, a senior Indian journalist, has called for Adani's Mundra port to be taken over by the government

    S. Balakrishnan is a Mumbai-based senior journalist who used to be employed with the ‘Times of India,’ the most widely circulated English daily newspaper in the country and reported regularly on crime. Following the November seizure of radioactive materials at Mundra, he made a passionate appeal to the government on video.

    ‘Gautam Adani owes an explanation to the nation,’ he said. ‘The Government also needs to get its act together.’

    ‘It’s high time we told (Gautam Adani) that he’s not operating Mundra port any more. In the larger national interest, Mundra port should be taken over by the government.’

     


  • Embattled museum fails to justify greenwashing Adani’s coal

    In October 2021, the London Science Museum announced a sponsorship deal with part of the Adani Group that met with immediate outrage from many in the scientific and environmental fields. Adani was to fund a ‘green energy gallery’ (to open in 2023), aimed at ‘educating the public about the huge opportunities and challenges we face as the era of fossil fuels comes to an end’.

    Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group, said: ‘We’re hugely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support they are providing for this gallery.’

    Reacting to what they termed ‘greenwashing’ of Adani’s coal operations, citizen groups mounted protests outside the museum’s entrance. Two trustees resigned. The museum went on the defensive, arguing that it was merely attempting to ‘engage, debate and challenge’ society to make the global economy less reliant on carbon. It claimed that sponsorship achieves public good.

    Adivasi people from India's Hasdeo forests overlook Adani's PEKB coal mine. Photo Vijay Ramamurthy

    When it comes to encouraging sponsorship from fossil-fuel companies, the London Science Museum has form. In October, a professor of climate science at a British university stood down from the museum’s advisory board in protest at the museum’s willingness to accept sponsorship from the oil and gas industry. Shell had sponsored an exhibition at the museum with the title 'Our Future Planet'.

    In response to the fracas over the collaboration with Adani, an advisor to the museum, Mr Bob Ward, accused critics of being ‘confused’ because Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL) is a different company from Adani Mining Limited. He acknowledged that both companies are part of the same group and went on to list the manufacture of solar panels, the building of roads and railways, and the operation of sewage treatment plants as other endeavours in which the Adani Group is engaged.

    Indigenous farmers were displaced to make way for Adani's Godda coal-power station in India. Photo Geoff Law

    It's hard to imagine a more disingenuous argument. Ward made no mention of the Adani Group’s extensive and growing investments in the coal industry in India, which includes two existing coal mines and 12 proposed new ones; six existing coal power stations, proposed expansions to three of them, and three proposed new ones; and at least six ports and other infrastructure for the transport of coal, as well as several proposals for expansion.

    This is before you consider the Adani Group’s coal mine in Indonesia. Mr Ward did mention Adani’s Carmichael coal project in Queensland, but in a dismissive fashion, despite the widespread fears that the infrastructure associated with this mine will open up a vast, previously untapped deposit of coal in Queensland to other exploiters. The dissent of local indigenous representatives also went unmentioned.

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  • Freedom of speech about Adani stifled in Adani’s home state of Gujarat

    In October 2021, police in the Indian state of Gujarat interrogated journalists who had written stories about the status of certain shareholdings in the Adani Group. The officers were responding to a complaint from disgruntled ‘investors’. Earlier, courts in Gujarat slapped an arrest warrant and gag orders on journalists that had reported on Adani. And in 2017, Gujarat police effectively ran an ABC current-affairs crew out of Adani’s main port town in Gujarat.

    Police from Gautam Adani’s home state of Gujarat have interrogated journalists after a complaint by ‘investors’ who claimed that negative news reports on Adani led to losses on their investments. The ‘investors’ alleged a conspiracy behind the news reports.

    'Welcome to Ahmedabad' (capital of Gujarat) from Adani Airports.

    In October 2021, media outlets in India reported that the crime branch of the police of Ahmedabad (the capital city of Gujarat) had summoned four journalists, including an editor, for questioning about the reports.

    ‘Under the provisions of Section 160 of the CRPC, the investigation officer can issue summons and in that context, we summoned the anchor of a leading news channel as well as three journalists of a leading financial newspaper, including an editor, regarding the application filed by three Ahmedabad investors who claimed to have been inflicted with a huge loss due to the misleading news stories regarding Adani Group,’ Investigation Officer, Police Inspector Nikhil Brahmbhatt of Ahmedabad Crime Branch (ACB) reportedly told media.

    It's perhaps telling that the police inspector referred to the news stories as ‘misleading’, rather than ‘allegedly misleading’.

    Authorities in Gujarat have responded with zeal to various complaints about media reporting on the Adani Group. Image ABC Four Corners

    Certain investors from Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gautam Adani’s home state of Gujarat, filed an application before the Crime Branch alleging a nationwide conspiracy to cheat investors of the country by publishing a 'misleading' and 'unverified' story about suspicious shareholdings of FPIs (foreign portfolio investors) in the Adani Group.

    ‘The Crime Branch has recorded the statements of all the four journalists as well as stock exchange official regarding the application. We are looking into the application and investigating whether a conspiracy was hatched by the TV media outlets with clear intentions and other concerns related to it. If the ACB finds any merit to the claims made in the application, then we'll be filing a formal complaint against the media outlets,’ the police inspector added.

    The offending news reports pertained to the status of several ‘foreign portfolio investors’ of companies in the Adani Group.

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  • Indigenous leaders from India denounce Modi over coal hypocrisy

    Indigenous leaders from India have slammed Prime Minister Modi for hypocrisy at the COP26 climate summit, according to Survival International. While presenting a climate-friendly face in Glasgow, Modi has instigated a coal rush at home. New coal mines have been auctioned and approved in the biodiverse Hasdeo forests, home to many groups of Adivasi (indigenous) people. Adani is a major developer and operator of coal projects in the forests of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

    Representatives of India’s Adivasi (Indigenous) people have denounced PM Narendra Modi for proclaiming his green credentials at COP, whilst simultaneously planning a massive expansion of coal mining on their lands.

    The lands and livelihoods of tens of thousands of tribal people will be destroyed under Modi’s plan to open 55 new coal mines, expand 193 existing ones, and produce 1 billion tonnes of coal a year. Eighty per cent of the new mines will be on Adivasi land.

    Vast areas of tribal forests are being sold off without the people’s consent. Corporations including Adani, Jindal and Vedanta are snapping up coalfields which are being auctioned as part of Modi’s coal rush.

    The landscape of India's Hasdeo forests, home to the Adivasi Gond people and a wealth of biodiversity - threatened by Adani coal mines. Image Vijay Ramamurthy

    One of the areas targeted is the priceless Hasdeo Forest in Chhattisgarh, home to twenty thousand Adivasis. Two mines are already operational there, and a third, Parsa, has just been approved. The Parsa mine will be operated by mining giant Adani, whose subsidiary was recently announced as a sponsor of London’s Science Museum.

    Shakuntala, an Oraon leader from Hasdeo, said: 'If the mine comes to Hasdeo forest, the entire region, including the Adivasi villages will be destroyed. The forest gives us everything we need – if the mine is opened there will be nothing left. Everything will be uprooted. The Earth is our Mother. We are the sons and daughters of the Earth. So how can we watch anyone destroy our Mother? We are ready to give our lives for Mother Earth.

    Indian tribal women march against coal mining in the Hasdeo forests. Image Vijay Ramamurthy

    'Whenever the government wants, it gives our land away for industries and coal mining. So we Adivasis are not free. We do not accept this slavery. We will give everything we have to resist this slavery: our bodies, our souls, our lives, but we will never accept it. We will not give our forests and lands away. If we do, the Adivasi existence will be lost forever.'

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Wilderness conservationist, author and bushwalker, partner of Amanda Sully, father of Elliott. 2010 Churchill Fellow.