Geoff Law

  • published The Ugly Side of Adani’s Solar Success Story in Blog 2020-12-08 09:49:46 +1100

    The Ugly Side of Adani’s Solar Success Story

    When large tracts of land are intensively developed for industrial infrastructure, governments should assess impacts on the environment and communities. Local critics and international experts say that this is not happening in the sprawling solar complexes that Adani is establishing on farmland in India. They warn that the country’s burgeoning renewable-energy industry could be brought into disrepute if environmental degradation and social dislocation are not addressed.

    According to energy analysts, the renewable-energy company, Adani Green Energy, is the largest listed energy company in India and one of the world’s biggest developers of solar power. It operates 2.6 gigawatts of renewable-energy plants across India with a further 11.4 gigawatts of projects in the pipeline. The company aims to achieve 25 gigawatts of renewable power by 2025. By comparison, the entire capacity of coal-fired power stations in Australia is also 25 gigawatts.

    Adani Green Energy was created when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as part of the Paris Agreement on climate, committed to develop 275 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2027. The objective was to transform the country’s power sector from an expensive, unreliable and polluting system based on fossil fuels into a low-cost, reliable and low-emissions system based on renewable energy.

    Already, Adani has developed ‘solar parks’ spreading over thousands of hectares of land in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The electricity tariffs from these installations are generally 2 to 3 rupees per unit, undercutting some new coal-fired power stations by 60-70%.

    A massive solar-energy installation in India. Photo WikiMedia Commons

    The markets have lapped it up. Adani Green Energy has seen a 2400% rise in its share price since its launch in 2018. The share price rose 565% in 2020 alone. This is remarkable, says Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), for a company that was in an embryonic stage only five years ago. Adani Green Energy’s current market capitalisation of US$15.6 billion is 40% above that of India’s largest thermal power generator, NTPC, a company with 22 times as much power-generating capacity.

    The burgeoning share price reflects the market’s confidence that Adani Green enjoys the backing of Prime Minister Modi, leading to easy access to vast tracts of land in a lax regulatory environment.

    With the world facing a climate crisis, Adani’s big move into solar-energy generation is to be applauded. But behind the glittering success of Adani Green lie some ugly truths.

    Adani’s sprawling solar arrays require the acquisition of land from farmers and other inhabitants. There have been protests and court actions against these takeovers. Farmers say that valuable agricultural land is being alienated and that poor villagers are losing their only enduring assets. Compensation in the form of cash is short-lived.

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  • published Scientists to assess ‘death trap’ harbour in Blog 2020-12-04 10:10:26 +1100

    Scientists to assess ‘death trap’ harbour

    In October 2019, the Madhyamam Weekly published a story by Jisha Elizabeth entitled ‘Vizhinjam Harbour a Death Trap’. It described the dangers to fishing boats allegedly caused by Adani’s construction of breakwaters associated with its massive port expansion at Vizhinjam in the south-western Indian state of Kerala. Parts of that story are re-published here together with an update on a situation that is becoming increasingly perilous for fishermen.

    According to many locals, the massive rock breakwaters associated with Adani’s construction of an international container terminal at Vizhinjam are bouncing waves into the opening of a harbour that used to provide safe passage for fishing boats. The situation has been described as a ‘death trap’.

    Fishing-community representatives say that waves that used to bounce from the shoreline away from the harbour entrance now ricochet off Adani’s infrastructure into the mouth of the harbour, capsizing fishing boats (see diagram). Many say that this new hazard has been exacerbated by rising sand deposits, also associated with the impacts of the port re-development, at the harbour entrance.

    As a result of the rebounding waves, numerous fisherfolk have been injured and hospitalised as boats collide either with each other or with the walls of the harbour. In response to an outcry from the fishing community, a panel of government experts has visited the site and is expected to report by May 2021.

    Illustration of altered wave-regime at Vizhinjam Harbour

    1. Incoming wave. 2. Adani port infrastructure. 3. Previous trajectory of waves. 4. Wave rebounds from port infrastructure. 5, 6, 7. Waves rebound within fishing harbour. (Diagram prepared for Madhyamam Weekly as illustration only. Angles of deflection are approximate)


    Johnson Jament, a faculty member at Northampton University, who is a marine conservationist, was quoted in the Madhyamam Weekly saying that faulty design and construction of Adani’s port re-development have aggravated the problem. The form, direction and pressure of waves have become unpredictable. Dredging and the building of breakwaters have compounded the dangers, he said. As a result, even fishermen with long experience of the sea’s local conditions are now confounded by the rebounding waves. When the 3.1-km breakwater is fully completed, these impacts are likely to become even worse.

    Fisherfolk say that the port development has also reduced local harvests of mussels, prawns, squids, anchovies, mackerel and lobsters. Encroachment of immense artificial structures on to the seabed, dredging, disrupted sediment flows, and extra turbidity have all contributed to impacts on what was previously a thriving local industry.

    Smashed boats at Vizhinjam, near Adani's port expansion

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  • published Government downplays Adani's violation in Blog 2020-12-03 13:47:14 +1100

    Government downplays Adani's violation

    The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has fined Adani for breaching environmental conditions that apply to the approval of its Carmichael coal mine. The infringement notices and fines totalling $25,920 were issued on 30 October 2020.

    The Department found that Adani Mining Pty Ltd (now Bravus Mining and Resources) had failed to carry out surveys of some of the bushland it cleared for its operations. It is therefore clear that the Adani Mining company has potentially harmed threatened species.

    The fine of $25,920 to a company that is part of the multi-billion-dollar Adani Group is a pathetic gesture. A pat on the knuckles with a bit of limp lettuce.

    Even the government's media release treated the crime in a derisory manner. The media release was headed 'QLD mining company fined for breaching environmental approval conditions'. The first paragraph of the release referred to 'a mining company'.

    The Australian Government appears to be playing the company's game of hiding the discredited name 'Adani' whenever possible.

    The media release says that the government 'takes non-compliance with approval conditions seriously'. But it is hard to see such a puny penalty or the government's limp rebuke acting as a deterrent to further wrongdoing.


  • Australian Senator slams Adani Group's international record

    An Australian Senator has slammed the international track record of the Adani Group, calling for the company to be 'sent packing'. He also tabled the AdaniWatch dossier on the Adani Group's atrocious international record on the environment and human rights.

    Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Nick McKim, speaking in the Senate on 2 December 2020, described the assaults on indigenous farmers opposing the takeover of their lands for Adani's Godda power station in India. This is the power station (under construction) for which Adani's Carmichael coal is destined. The land was seized from villagers using coercion and underhand tactics.

    Senator McKim also criticised the Adani Group's deal with the Myanmar Economic Corporation, 'bagman' for the brutal Myanmar military, for a huge port development in Yangon. He quoted Australian human-rights lawyer, Chris Sidoti, who investigated atrocities against Myanmar's Rohingya people for the United Nations and said that Adani would be enriching the culpable generals through its Yangon port development.

    Senator McKim chastised the Adani Group's joint venture with palm-oil giant Wilmar, which has profited from the large-scale destruction of rainforests in south-east Asia, including the habitat of elephants and orangutans. The palm-oil operations of Adani Wilmar have also been implicated in human-rights abuses.

    Senator McKim described Adani's Carmichael mine, under development in Queensland, as a 'carbon bomb' that would have devastating consequences for the Earth's climate, as well as direct and indirect impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Senator McKim took some of his materials from the AdaniWatch dossier on the Adani Group. His speech can be found here

  • Warning that 'failed bidding process' will benefit Adani to detriment of Modi's credibility

    Last week, AdaniWatch reported that participants in a multi-billion-dollar bidding process for the assets of an insolvent bank had complained that the rules were being bent in a way that benefited the Adani Group. The process is now subject to litigation. And a financial commentator has warned in the Times of India that the accommodation of Adani's late bid could result in a 'failed bidding process' that will dent Prime Minister Modi's 'assurances of fairness and transparency for foreign investors'. He also said that Adani's 'mounting debt' and 'highly leveraged' situation is 'worrying', and that the bursting of the Adani bubble 'is very much a possibility'. Surely this is a warning of great pertinence to the State Bank of India as it considers whether to loan the Adani Group a billion dollars for its Carmichael coal mine.

    The Adani Group and three other major companies are participating in a formal bidding process for the assets of DHFL, a failed home-loan bank. It is a multi-billion-dollar bidding process. The three other companies have threatened to walk out of the resolution process if a late bid by the Adani Group is accepted, saying that the bid was submitted in violation of the rules laid down by the government.

    The controversy has deepened, with Mint reporting that a promoter of DHFL is taking the issue to the National Company Law Tribunal in Mumbai. The report says that the bidding process is stalled until after the tribunal hears the matter on 3 December.

    Meanwhile, a commentator in the Times of India has warned that failure of this troubled process will dent the credibility of India amongst international investors. He also issued a scathing assessment of the Adani Group's financial situation and tactics. In a column, the commentator, Dr Muneer, has written that:

    'Definitely something is stinking here [in the way the multi-billion-dollar bidding process is being conducted] given that this is paving way for Adani to seal the deal by not breaking any rules. They had also submitted their bid six days post the deadline, which should have disqualified them but was not done for obvious reasons, according to rivals.

    'This essentially will result in a failed bidding process with only one player, Adani. That does not augur well for the stakeholders and the public funds and it will affect future foreign capital inflow into stressed assets here...

    'There is a merit in this accusation [by one of Adani's rival bidders] and it should thoroughly be investigated given that the creditors are representing public funds and not their personal wealth. Besides, the transparency that was offered to foreign investors must start with this.

    'More worrying is what Adani Group is up to with mounting debts and diversification into disparate areas without any strategic alignment. Adani is highly leveraged, likely to get more and more leveraged as it madly extends its footprint across newer and newer sectors. Banks are obviously lending and bank loans are being used to repay other loans. When will the bubble burst? ...

    'If the Adani bubble bursts, and it is very much a possibility, a lot of lenders can go down and, with them, a large number of small investors, depositors and public funds that could be used for development and poverty alleviation programs.'

    Such warnings should be considered by the State Bank of India in assessing the proposed loan to the Adani Group's Carmichael coal mine in Australia.


  • published Dossier exposes Adani Group's appalling record in Blog 2020-11-19 11:43:12 +1100

    Dossier exposes Adani Group's appalling record

    This dossier on the Adani Group's environmental and social record outside Australia makes for sobering reading.

    In Australia, Adani is best known as the company behind the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. However, the Adani Group is a conglomeration of companies engaged in a vast array of businesses, including coal-fired power stations, ports, palm oil, airports, defence industries, solar power, real estate and gas. The group’s founder and chairman, Gautam Adani, has been described as India’s second-richest man and is a close associate of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The Adani Group is active in several countries but particularly in India, where accusations of corruption and environmental destruction have dogged its rise to power. In central India, Adani intends to strip mine ancestral lands belonging to the indigenous Gond people. Large tracts of biodiverse forest, including elephant habitat, are in the firing line. Around the coastline of India, Adani’s plans to massively expand its ports are generating outcry from fishing villages and conservationists. In the country’s east, Adani is building a thermal power station designed to burn coal from Queensland and sell expensive power to neighbouring Bangladesh. Investigations, court actions and allegations of impropriety have accompanied Adani’s progress in many of these business schemes.

    Through its joint venture with Wilmar, Adani is a major refiner and trader in palm oil, an industry responsible for devastating huge areas of rainforest in South-East Asia. The Adani Group is also developing a major port in Myanmar, leasing land from a corporation owned by that country’s infamously brutal military.

    The Adani Group has benefited from human-rights violations and environmental degradation associated with many of the Group’s commercial operations. Some of the abuses have been carried out by governments acting for the benefit of the Adani Group. AdaniWatch has published articles about these issues since February 2020. Such stories have also appeared in many other media outlets. Many of the incidents described in these articles have led to court challenges against the Adani Group’s projects.

    This dossier on the Adani Group's appalling environmental and social record was compiled from AdaniWatch stories published between February and October 2020.

  • published Goa protests target Adani in Blog 2020-11-17 11:51:45 +1100

    Goa protests target Adani

    Protests against turning the popular Indian province of Goa into a massive coal hub have recently targeted Gautam Adani, the founder of the Adani Group. Goa is famous as a seaside holiday tourist mecca, with beaches, seafood and a blend of Indian and Portuguese culture. Inland are the Western Ghat ranges with rainforests, waterfalls and tiger sanctuaries. This gem of a province is under serious assault from the coal-industry plans of the government and corporations. Port expansions, dredged waterways and double-tracking of rail-lines will carry imported coal to steel mills in the hinterland. But the people are out in force to defend their province!

    The proposed Goa coal hub involves expansion of the Mormugao Port, broadening of highways that connect the port to steel plants in the hinterland, the deepening of six rivers to make them navigable by coal barges, and the double-tracking of a railway line to move coal wagons to the steel belt. Given the conflict-ridden history of coal projects in the state and the Goans’ love for their land and a gentle-paced life, the grand plans have run into serious resistance.

    Goans out in force to defend their province. Photo Goyant Kollso Naka

    The proposed 352-km railway track that triggered this round of protests will slice through densely populated areas, biodiverse forests including a tiger reserve, and agricultural lands.

    ‘This is a private project with only three beneficiaries – Adani, Jindal and Vedanta,’ said Deepika D’Souza, one of the volunteers with the multi-organisational campaign Goyan Kollso Naka (No Coal for Goa).

    Recent protests have depicted the corporate beneficiaries as a three-headed monster featuring Naveen Jindal, Gautam Adani and Vedanta head Anil Agarwal.

    The strength of the protests has put the government of Goa on the back foot, promising to apply a cap on coal imports. Such reactions appear unlikely to appease the protest movement, led by Goyant Kollso Naka, or 'No Coal for Goa'.

    A nighttime protest against coal-hub plans for Goa. Photo Goyant Kollso Naka

    Recent blockades are not the first Goan actions against coal. Communities living near the coal port and along the transport routes through which coal moves have already witnessed the havoc that the acidic coal-dust can wreak. In April 2017, when Mormugao Port held a mandatory environmental public hearing to expand coal handling from seven million tonnes to 24 million tonnes per annum, thousands of people gathered to voice their anger. The public hearings ran for an unprecedented eight days ending at midnight every night.

    Goa, which is well known for its idyllic sandy beaches on the shores of the Arabian sea, is bound to its east by the densely wooded and biodiverse ranges called the Western Ghats. For coal to reach the steel factories from the coal port, it would have to traverse the Ghats.  This would entail takeover of 113.86 hectares of forest land and the felling of 18,451 trees. It would disrupt sensitive habitats, including the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve. The expansion of the highway connecting the port to the steel belt will cost another 12,000 trees. Also on the cards is an electrical transmission corridor along the same alignment.

    Many thanks to Nityanand Jayaraman for most of this article.

    Candlelight vigil opposing Goa coal hub. Goyant Kollso Naka

  • published 'SAVE US FROM BRAVUS', says Bob Brown in Blog 2020-11-05 12:23:10 +1100

    'SAVE US FROM BRAVUS', says Bob Brown about Adani name change

    Adani Mining is changing its name to ‘Bravus’. The re-branding has been announced on YouTube by Adani and widely reported. It comes in the wake of other attempts at re-branding, with Adani expunging its own name from its north Queensland rail and port operations. AdaniWatch has previously described Adani as ‘the company that dare not speak its name’.

    The chief executive officer of Adani Mining, David Boshoff, said that Bravus was Latin for brave and courageous, ‘a description that suited the company’.

    However, the company was so ‘brave’ about changing its toxic brand that it made the announcement when everyone was looking the other way, fully engrossed in the USA presidential election.

    The Australian Financial Review said that other definitions of Bravus on the internet described it as meaning ‘cut-throat or villain – not great for a company that has been targeted by environmentalists for its behaviour both in Australia and India'.

    The Australian (paywalled) said ‘the most controversial name in Australian mining is no more after budding coal producer Adani rebranded to call itself Latin for brave. By dumping the family name of its Indian owner, Bravus Mining & Resources is trying to reset after a decade of pitched environmental and political battles over the Carmichael mine in central west Queensland.’

    The Guardian interviewed an expert in Latin who said that Adani had gotten lost in translation. Bravus apparently means 'crooked', 'cut-throat' or 'mercenary'. A Freudian slip?

    Leading environmentalist, Bob Brown, said that the name change won’t change Adani’s ‘infamy’.

    ‘The Adani corporation’s name change in Australia from ‘Adani’ to ‘Bravus’ won’t improve its global reputation for being an environmental monster in this age of climate emergency and extinction crisis,’ Bob Brown said.

    ‘A new anti-Adani slogan is ‘SAVE US FROM BRAVUS,’ he said.

    ‘This must be humiliating for Gautam Adani, the multi-billionaire owner of the mine works in Central Queensland. He is admitting that his name is poison for the public and potential investors alike.’

    ‘Yet he doesn’t get it. It is a game change, not a name change, that is required – and that means stopping his mine and getting out of dirty, polluting coal altogether. That would take an integrity which Adani by any name, from Goa to the Galilee Basin, lacks. The public will think even less of Adani for this failed bit of window dressing en route to his Queensland mine becoming a stranded asset,’ Brown said.

    Frontline Action of Coal staged a hilarious protest, with participants polishing a giant turd, reported by News Ltd (paywalled).

    The Brisbane Times interviewed Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator, Peter McCallum, who said people would not be fooled by Adani’s attempt to 'hide behind a new name'.

    'Adani wants to arise like a phoenix from the ashes of its damaged corporate image, but that bird won’t fly,' he said. 'They can’t scrub away Adani’s track record of breaking Queensland laws, endangering the reef, destroying black-throated finch habitat and intimidating the community.'

  • published 'Kerala’s Army' up in arms against Adani in Blog 2020-11-01 12:22:08 +1100

    'Kerala’s Army' up in arms against Adani

    In the south-western Indian state of Kerala, an Adani company is constructing a massive port in the midst of fishing villages, beaches and tourist resorts. The company’s deep-water Vizhinjam trans-shipment port has attracted headlines for all the wrong reasons – delays, coastal erosion, public subsidies and damage to fisheries. Since 30 September 2020, a group of determined fisherfolk has tackled Adani, blocking roads into the construction site with their boats. These fisherfolk are a pillar of the local community, having undertaken countless dangerous rescue missions in 2018 when huge floods devastated the local area. Now they are attempting to rescue their own livelihoods. For several months, Jisha Elizabeth has been attending protest meetings and events. She now reports for AdaniWatch on the current situation at Vizhinjam.

    When the floods of 2018 devastated Kerala, a group of daring fishermen did the unthinkable. Navigating their fishing boats like an armada through the deluge, they saved numerous lives and property, like trained rescue personnel. Their selfless service earned the praise and gratitude of the government and people alike. These brave sons of the sea were hailed as Kerala’s Army by the state government. Now, this army, based on the southern tip of India, is on a war footing against the Adani Group, the business conglomerate that enjoys the patronage of the state and central governments. The fishermen are fighting to protect the marine ecosystem, their livelihood and their lives, which they say are being destroyed by the Vizhinjam deep-sea port construction undertaken by Adani.

    According to many reports, the Adani Group enjoys the direct and indirect support of the Modi government and its bureaucracy. Even though the opposition is rich and powerful, the children of the sea have vowed to stand strong and fight this battle for survival.

    Breakwater construction is a crucial part of the project. On 30 September 2020, the fishers of Vizhinjam mounted a blockade against Adani’s works, blocking the approach road, which is used to transport rocks in huge trucks to the site, with their boats – both intact ones and those that have been damaged as a result of port construction. They have also been doing a 24/7 sit-in. Fearing violence, the state government has deployed two buses of police at the strike venue.

    Fishing community protesters block trucks carrying construction materials to Adani's port development at Vizhinjam. Photo Jisha Elizabeth

    The Adani Group has distanced itself from the dispute, describing it as an issue between the fisherfolk and the government of Kerala.

    ‘The blockade … is related to an agreement between the Kottapuram villagers and the Government of Kerala regarding rehabilitation and resettlement, not Adani,’ said an Adani spokesperson. ‘Adani Ports has no role in rehabilitation and resettlement as this work is in the scope of work of the state government.’

    Regular announcements from the nearby Church of the Lady of Good Voyage at Vizhinjam keep the morale of the protestors high. Around 4000 families – approximately 25,000 people – in this village are members of this parish. And the church has installed speakers in all streets of this densely populated area. The probability of the fisherfolk gathering en masse with a single announcement has forced the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) and the Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Ltd (AVPPL) to temporarily halt all construction activities.

    Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Vizhinjam Harbour. Photo Jisha Elizabeth

    According to taped secret conversations by Adani spokespeople, the company incurred a loss of 10 million rupees in 17 days. Media reports have referred to similar losses. This prompted the government, the port authority, the district authority and the Adani Group to hold discussions with the fisherfolk on 16 October 2020, the 17th day of the agitation. But the talks were to no avail. During the six-hour long meeting, protesters rejected arguments put forward by representatives of the government and the Adani Group. Father Michael Thomas, one of the protest leaders, made it explicitly clear that the community will no longer give in to fake promises.

    The state government accepted that the grievances of the fishing community are legitimate but declined to issue government orders to ensure that their demands were met. The government representative offered to sign assurances on the VISL letter pad. But the protestors did not accept that such a letter would be legally binding. The protest leadership warned against trying to fool the community. They pointed out that before the project commenced in 2015, several Government Orders had been issued but none had been executed. One of the promises made was for a drinking-water project that would cost AUD$ 1.4 million. But the protestors allege that the project is being used to supply water for the port construction.

    Adani says it has made good on its promises.

    Protesters meet representatives of Adani, the port authority and the Kerala government. Photo Jisha Elizabeth

    ‘Adani has employed more than 200 people from within the region, delivering on its commitment to local villagers who requested employment opportunities,’ a spokesperson said.  ‘Adani is also committed to training local young people before commencing work, so they are prepared and highly skilled for port operation work. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion in a democratic way within the factual and legal framework. All stakeholders need to be respectful and not put themselves or anyone else in harm’s way.’

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  • published Adani - the company that dare not speak its name in Blog 2020-10-30 08:54:47 +1100

    Adani - the company that dare not speak its name

    Adani boasts that work on its Carmichael coal mine in Queensland is ‘well underway’, but the company’s behaviour betrays an attitude of deep insecurity.

    In August 2020, Adani Australia launched legal proceedings against climate campaigner Ben Pennings, alleging ‘a sustained campaign of harassment’ against the company’s business and contractors. Mr Pennings was the public face of Galilee Blockade, a community group dedicated to keeping the fossil fuels of Queensland’s vast Galilee Basin in the ground in order to protect the Earth’s climate.

    In preparing for the court action, Adani secretly sought to raid the Brisbane home of Mr Pennings and his young family in order to obtain ‘confidential information’ it believed Mr Pennings had acquired. The court dismissed Adani’s move, citing the ‘humiliation and family distress’ such a raid might cause.

    On 28 October 2020, it was revealed that Adani had organised surveillance of the home and family of Mr Pennings. A private investigator engaged by Adani covertly took photographs of Mr Pennings walking his nine-year-old daughter to school. Adani confirmed that surveillance had taken place, saying in a statement on Twitter that ‘any surveillance activity related to the relatives of Mr Pennings was an effort to determine the time of day to carry out a search order that would see the least disruption to residents, if it was granted by the courts’.

    This revelation aroused widespread disgust and condemnation.

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  • How the Modi government tweaked environmental laws to facilitate an Adani-backed project

    On 30 September 2020, India’s National Green Tribunal ordered a company that is part owned by the Adani Group to remove storage tanks for edible oils from a coastal zone in the country’s south-east. The National Green Tribunal is effectively India’s environment protection authority. It ordered the removal of the plant because it found that it had been established illegally. This story presents evidence of the ‘tweaking’ of environmental rules by the Indian government to enable the development to proceed, despite being incompatible with the area’s zoning and the associated risks to the adjacent marine environment.

    The National Green Tribunal, in ordering the removal of tanks and pipeline, also fined the company the equivalent of AUD $50,000. It is not yet known whether the company will appeal the decision. (In India, the term ‘clearance’ means ‘approval’ when pertaining to planning procedures.)

    Background on the Adani Group’s involvement with the devastating palm-oil industry can be found here, and recent developments regarding import of palm oil into India can be found here.

    Did the Modi government tweak environmental laws to facilitate an edible-oil firm – which is partly owned by business tycoon Gautam Adani – to obtain a mandatory approval in an illegal manner? India’s premier court in environmental litigations, the National Green Tribunal, has scrapped the clearance (approval) under rules that regulate activities along the country’s sea coasts.

    In a judgment delivered on 30 September 2020, the National Green Tribunal directed the firm to dismantle structures that had been constructed, even before getting the clearance, along India’s south-east coast near the Ennore port in Chennai for transportation and storage of imported edible oil.

    The project comprises a pipeline and a transit-storage terminal. The pipeline is over 4.5 kilometers in length – from the port to the storage terminal in Tondiarpet village in Chennai – and has a diameter of 25 cm. Five storage tanks with capacities of 1720 KL, 1442 KL, 1281KL, 855 KL and 7527 KL have been installed for handling and transit of edible oil at the transit terminal.

    A penalty of nearly AUD $50,000 was also imposed upon the firm that is based in Chennai, the capital city of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The clearance that was scrapped by the National Green Tribunal had been provided to the private firm in March last year after amending the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011.

    The CRZ Notification, 2011, framed by India’s erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, contains rules to regulate human activities, primarily those of a commercial and industrial nature, along the country’s 7500-kilometer coastline.

    The firm in question, KTV Health Food Private Limited, is a 50:50 joint venture between Adani Wilmar Limited and the Chennai-based KTV Health Foods Private Limited India. In addition, documents obtained by the author detailing the corporate ownership of KTV indicate Adani Wilmar’s 50% holding in the company. Adani Wilmar is a joint venture between India’s Adani Group (the group’s patriarch, Gautam Adani, is a close associate of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi) and the Singapore-based agrobusiness Wilmar International. The group manufactures and markets ‘Fortune’, a leading brand of edible oil in India, apart from Rag vanaspati and palmolein. It sells more than a million tons of edible oils in India each year.

    Construction of the edible-oil transportation and storage project commenced in December 2015 pending clearance from India’s environment ministry, that is, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. A Chennai-based social organization engaged in protecting the coastal zone and ensuring welfare of fishing communities – Meenava Thanthai KR Selvaraj Kumar Meenava Nala Sangam – filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal in the year 2016 against the illegal construction activities. The tribunal issued a judgment ordering suspension of all construction work till the appropriate clearances were acquired under CRZ rules.

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  • Recent developments regarding India’s import of palm oil from SE Asia

    For several decades now, India has been importing approximately half of the country's total requirement of edible oils. Most of the edible oil imported by India is refined palm oil or palmolein and much of the imported oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. India is the world’s largest importer of palm oil from its largest producers, Indonesia and Malaysia. Both countries have large palm plantations created out of rainforests and irrigated by year-round tropical rainfall. The multinational Wilmar group has been criticised by environmental activists over the years for its involvement in the establishment of mono-cultures of palm trees in place of rainforests, orangutan habitat and ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. The Adani Group is associated with Wilmar through its 50:50 joint venture, Adani Wilmar, which imports large quantities of palm oil into India. India’s second-richest man, Gautam Adani, is the patriarch of the sprawling Adani Group.

    On 30 September 2019, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stood before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and launched an unexpected attack on India, accusing the country of violating the UN’s resolutions by ‘invading and occupying’ Kashmir, referring to India’s decision in early-August to revoke the special Constitutional status granted to Jammu & Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state. The subsequent lockdown and human rights abuses had been condemned across the world, but none were perhaps as high-profile as Mahathir’s barbs on the floor of the UNGA.

    The Malaysian PM’s remarks were strongly criticised by the Indian government, and supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Reacting to Mahathir’s comments, the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI), a Mumbai-headquartered lobby of some of India’s biggest edible oil companies, issued an unprecedented advisory to its members to stop importing oil from Malaysia. The unprecedented advisory added a geopolitical twist to one of the most fundamental aspects of India’s food security, and also one of its biggest businesses. The SEAI is currently headed by Atul Chaturvedi, former CEO and current board member of Adani Wilmar.

    Mahathir’s remarks came at a time when the SEAI was already engaged in a trade dispute with Malaysia. Imports of palm oil from Malaysia increased dramatically in 2019 after a scheduled cut in import duties came into effect on 31 December 2018. SEAI filed for trade protection from the Indian government, claiming that the Malaysia oil imports had put Indian oil companies at the risk of ‘serious injury’. It won the dispute after the government imposed a ‘temporary safeguard duty’ on Malaysian edible oil in September 2019. Malaysia had initially retaliated with its own export duty, and Mahathir then commented against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

    The CAA was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act, 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religious minorities who had fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. Muslims from those countries were not given such eligibility. Critics say this was the first time religion had been overtly used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian law.

    In January 2020, the Indian government made a major decision to restrict imports of refined palm oil. The oil can now only be imported with a licence issued by the central government. This is the first time such a licence is being demanded for undertaking refined oil imports after the trade was opened up in 1994 as part of India’s shift towards liberalisation and globalisation.   


  • Coastal ecosystems and livelihoods devastated by Adani’s massive Mundra port complex and power station

    As opposition to Adani’s proposed Godda power plant spreads internationally, discussion of the Adani Group’s environmental legacy in other parts of India is intensifying. A recent webinar heard graphic details about the impacts on local people and the coastal environment of the operations of the Adani Group and the Tata company at Mundra in the Indian state of Gujarat. The description was based on various studies in which Mr Soumya Dutta was a key player.

    Soumya Dutta is also a co-convenor of the South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis (SAPACC), and active on the Climate & Energy Group, the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha (India people's science campaign), and India-Climate-Justice. He is an Ashoka Fellow and a member of the Advisory Board for the UN Climate Technology Centre and Network.

    ‘The Tatas and Adanis call these thermal power projects development, but I barely see any kind of development happening here. Our fishing season is from August to mid-May but owing to their outlet and intake pipes, the hot water and the pollution, we are packing our way back to our villages now in April. Not enough fish this year so we are going back early... What is development to us? … Let them leave us on our own, we were happy earlier.’    Ahmed Ali Illiyasa, fisherman and head of a local advocacy group for fisherfolk, 24 April 2012, as reported by an independent fact-finding committee (see below).

    Ahmed Ali Illiyasa (centre), fisherman and head of local fishing advocacy group, Mundra. Photo Soumya Dutta

    The jewel in Adani’s industrial crown is its giant port complex at Mundra in the Indian state of Gujarat. This 15,000-ha ‘special economic zone’ has numerous factories as well as power stations operated by both Adani Power and the Tata company. According to the website of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), Adani hopes this hub will also attract petrochemical industries, textile manufacturing, food processing, warehousing and defence and aerospace industries.

    The Mundra industrial complex is located on the Gulf of Kutch. A prominent feature of this coastline is the vast intertidal zone comprising a network of creeks, estuaries and mudflats. These features provide a conducive environment for several sea-based traditional occupations such as fishing and salt-making as well as land-based occupations like agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. Even by the standards of India, the region has a very high rural population density. The rapid development of Adani’s port and associated infrastructure over the last 30 years has generated intense concerns amongst such communities.

    In 2012-13, an independent fact-finding committee headed by Justice (retired) S M Bhargava carried out studies of the areas affected by Tata and the Adani Group at Mundra.  Soumya Dutta was the committee’s convener as well as lead author of the ensuing reports which included extensive documentation of social and environmental impacts, including measurements of water temperatures, pH, dissolved oxygen (all critically important for marine life), damage to mangroves and creeks,  increases in particulates and noise levels in adjacent villages, radioactivity increase near the ash ponds of the mega power plants, and a drastic reduction in fish catch across a range of species. Dutta says that very clear impacts on women and children were documented.

    Because of the huge influx of workers from outside, alcoholism increased. Local production of alcohol increased significantly causing an increase in family violence. To tackle the problem, a women’s group, Rina Rabari, had to raid some of these illegal alcohol-making establishments. In response, an Adani spokesperson said that the state of Gujarat follows a strict prohibition policy and the law is implemented with equal rigour for all.

    (Story continues below)

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  • Tribal W&J protest against Adani to continue despite police action

    Friday 28 August, 3.30 pm: Police force W&J protest from the road

    Statement from ‘Standing our Ground’ blockade camp of W&J people:

    The police have done Adani’s bidding and forced us to remove the spirit fire from the road. The Queensland police has promised to arrange a meeting with the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. They have broken that promise and instead brought in an excessive number of officers to break up our peaceful stand. But we are not done, we will not be silenced. We are proud tribal warriors of the First Nations of Wangan and Jagalingou Country. We remain on our Country at another campsite. 

    EARLIER (28 August, 10 am): An overwhelming presence of 20 police vehicles has just arrived at the W&J blockade camp, according to the 'Standing our Ground' Facebook page. They are pressuring W&J people to leave their country. See:

    On 24 August 2020, Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners who oppose Adani’s Queensland coal mine (the Carmichael mine) blocked workers from reaching the mine construction site. They blocked the access road to the remote mine site, which is about 400km from the coast. On 20 August, they served Adani with an eviction notice (see earlier story). Their statement is below:

    MEDIA RELEASE, Monday 24 August 2020

    Traditional Owners have today re-established control of access to Wangan and Jagalingou country leading to the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine site, enforcing protection of their home lands.

    Starting today, Traditional Owners will restrict Adani, and their contractors, movement to and from the mine site.

    Traditional Owners issued Adani Australia with an eviction notice at the company’s offices in Brisbane, Townsville and at the Carmichael mine site, last Thursday. 

    Today’s action marks the start of a direct campaign of enforcing the eviction, led by the Wangan and Jagalingou tribal people, to protect Country.

    Confrontation between W&J and police

    The following can be attributed to Adrian Burragubba:

    “Today we are re-establishing tribal control of our home lands.

    “We will restrict Adani Australia and contractors free movement within Wangan and Jagalingou lands. These restrictions will not apply to the general public or local farming families.

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  • Traditional Owners stand ground to enforce eviction of Adani

    BREAKING (28 August, 10 am): An overwhelming presence of 20 police vehicles has just arrived at the W&J blockade camp, according to the 'Standing our Ground' Facebook page. They are pressuring W&J people to leave their country. See:


    On 24 August 2020, Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners who oppose Adani’s Queensland coal mine (the Carmichael mine) blocked workers from reaching the mine construction site. They blocked the access road to the remote mine site, which is about 400km from the coast. On 20 August, they served Adani with an eviction notice (see earlier story). Their statement is as follows:

    MEDIA RELEASE, Monday 24 August 2020

    Traditional Owners have today re-established control of access to Wangan and Jagalingou country leading to the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine site, enforcing protection of their home lands.

    Starting today, Traditional Owners will restrict Adani, and their contractors, movement to and from the mine site.

    Traditional Owners issued Adani Australia with an eviction notice at the company’s offices in Brisbane, Townsville and at the Carmichael mine site, last Thursday. 

    Today’s action marks the start of a direct campaign of enforcing the eviction, led by the Wangan and Jagalingou tribal people, to protect Country

    The following can be attributed to Adrian Burragubba:

    “Today we are re-establishing tribal control of our home lands.

    “We will restrict Adani Australia and contractors free movement within Wangan and Jagalingou lands. These restrictions will not apply to the general public or local farming families.

    “Adani are operating without authorisation within our boundaries.

    “Adani have cleared land which is home to many sacred totemic animals.

    “It is our duty as Wangan and Jagalingou people to act against Adani’s Carmichael project that interferes with our ancient law and custom.




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  • Adani’s coal power will impose ‘heavy debt burden’ and ‘financial crisis’ on Bangladesh

    Power generated by Adani for export to Bangladesh will weaken that country’s economy, according to energy analysts.

    The Adani Group intends to export coal from its Carmichael mine in Australia in order to generate electricity for export to Bangladesh. The coal is to be burnt in the Godda power plant (under construction) in India – about 130 km from the border with Bangladesh. Supporters of the project claim that this will help ‘lift Bangladesh out of poverty’.

    However, analysts from two Bangladeshi community groups strongly disagree. A presentation to a webinar by the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED) and Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) says that Adani’s plan threatens to increase the external debt of Bangladesh.

    ‘It is obvious that Bangladesh will not require (Adani’s) electricity,’ said Sajjad Hossain Tuhin from BWGED, ‘as it is already experiencing over-capacity.’

    He said that if the power deal proceeds, Bangladesh will fall into a ‘heavy burden’ from external loans.

    He said the financial arrangements contained in a power-purchase agreement between an Adani company and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) mean that Bangladesh will have to pay for contracted power even if the power is not used. Such payments are called ‘capacity payments’.

    (Story continues below)

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  • Eviction notice issued to Adani by W&J Traditional Owners

    The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J), the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, have issued an eviction notice to Adani for its intention to commit serious breaches to land, life and community health.

    The eviction notice was served in person by Mr Adrian Burragubba at the company’s Brisbane office on the 20 August 2020, with other notices of eviction served in person by Traditional Owners at the Adani mine site and at the multinational corporation’s headquarters in Townsville.

    Adani’s actions are considered unlawful under Wangan and Jagalingou tribal law. W&J representatives will commence legal proceedings against the attack on Country by this mining company. A statement W&J Traditional Owners went on to say:

    'Our objections to this mine are well known and have been ignored. Our basic rights have been torn away and trampled on. Sovereignty remains.

    Our land has been sold off to be ruined.

    The State and Federal Government, and Adani in partnership have:

    Approved the mine in opposition to traditional owners,

    Established a sham Indigenous Land Use Agreement,

    Extinguished lands rights and native title of traditional owners,

    Barred traditional owners from entering their lands,

    Bankrupted cultural leaders,

    Begun the destruction of our land, water and cultural sites.'

    Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader, said, 'the time for talk is over, and Adani has got to go.'

    'This is our home, and we will defend our Country,' he said. 'Adani has ignored our concerns. They created sham agreements. They used their power with the government to try and criminalise our actions, and bankrupted us. They have attacked us in public.'

    'They are squatters on our land. So they’ve got to go. And we will stand up to them until they have.'

    Watch this video to see Adrian and W&J people stand their ground:

  • Campaign against Adani’s Godda coal-power station builds momentum in Australia, India and Bangladesh

    Community groups, financial experts and lawyers from three different countries have collaborated to stop Adani’s coal-fired power station at Godda from being completed. Godda is in eastern India, about 400 km north of Kolkata. The power station that Adani is constructing there is the lynchpin in Adani’s plan to ship Australian coal to India and sell the power to Bangladesh.

    About 70 people participated in a webinar on 10 August 2020, swapping stories and insights about the environmental, social and economic damage associated with the Godda plant.

    AdaniWatch coordinator, Geoff Law, who addressed the webinar, said that the campaign against the Godda power station is building international momentum.

    ‘It’s great to see dedicated people in three countries getting together to tackle the destructive plans of the Adani Group,’ Mr Law said. ‘The Godda power plant, if completed, will cause even more suffering amongst the local people and degrade India’s holy Ganges River.’


    Local campaigners describe impacts of Adani's Godda construction

    Dispossessed indigenous farmers told how their land was seized on Adani’s behalf by the Jharkhand government’s use of coercion and underhand tactics (at about 34:00, 44:00). Their local supplies of water for drinking, cooking and farming have been drastically degraded.

    Environmentalists described how the Godda power plant’s thirst for water will deplete and degrade India’s sacred Ganges River (at about 2:26:00 and 2:40:00).


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  • commented on Contact 2021-02-16 14:00:14 +1100
    Hello. This is my comment.

  • Interview with Chief Minister about Adani, coal mines, indigenous people and elephant reserve

    Interview by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, translated into English by Abir Dasgupta

    This interview deals with Adani’s coal-mining and iron-ore mining operations in the Hasdeo Aranya forests of India. The Chief Minister of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh is interviewed by investigative journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. They discuss the state government’s responses to claims that local approval for one of the mines had been forged, the secrecy surrounding contracts with Adani and the government’s proposed elephant reserve.

    Bhupesh Baghel has been Chief Minister for 18 months. His Congress party government replaced that of the Hindu-nationalist BJP in 2018, having made commitments to stand up to corporations such as the Adani Group. A sub-titled version of the interview is here:

    The full interview was first published by NewsClick – see the link below. The section pertaining to Adani and the Hasdeo Arannya forests starts at 17:27.


    17:27 Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (PGT): Before the elections [in December 2019] you had said you are afraid of no one. You once tweeted, “no matter how big someone is, even if it is Adani, rules would no longer be bent.” You have alleged that recent raids by central government authorities on bureaucrats in your government are a “political vendetta” since you have initiated investigations into past decisions. Could you elaborate?

    18:14 Bhupesh Baghel (BB): As far as Adani is concerned or anyone else is concerned, all industrialists are welcome, however, no help will be given to them by the government by flouting rules. For example, we found discrepancies in the case of iron ore mines in Dantewada – owned by a joint venture between CMDC (Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation) and NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation). The Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) is an Adani group company. In that case, the local residents had alleged that their consent by means of the gram sabha (village meeting) had been forged. My government considered the various demands raised by the people and accepted them. We committed that there would be no steps taken towards opening the mine, no cutting of trees and that we would investigate the consent of the local residents obtained through the gram sabha.

    The report of the district collector that was prepared after investigation showed that no meeting of the actual gram sabha had taken place, and a falsified report had been prepared, and the “consent” acquired was a forgery. On that basis, we raised a show-cause notice to NMDC. They had requested one month’s time to respond, that we granted. They have requested an extension due to the ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its a matter of natural justice, how can anyone answer during the lockdown? So we have granted the extension. However, NMDC will have to answer, notices sent by two departments of the government.

    I bring this up to clarify that the law will prevail, whoever is the industrialist concerned.


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