Everyone has seen media coverage of the calamity unfolding across India. The scenes of distressed patients outside hospitals and makeshift funeral pyres are horrifying. AdaniWatch sends a message of solidarity and admiration to all of our brave contributors from India, who are continuing to send reports despite the grim predicament faced by their communities.
For those who wish to make donations to assist the people of India, a list of verified charities can be found here.
The circumstances that have led to proliferating infections have been described in numerous stories emanating from India. Here is a selection.
Internationally acclaimed author Arundhati Roy writes a passionate and compelling indictment of the government of Indian PM Narendra Modi in The Guardian:
A paywalled story in The Economist describes how India's giant second wave is a disaster for the rest of the world as well:
The government of Modi's BJP party is criticised for organising huge political rallies in the run-up to state elections during a perilous time:
More on the huge crowds at political rallies by the Japan Times, which speculates that PM Modi is losing his grip on the country:
PM Modi is accused of being a 'super spreader' of the virus in a story published in The Wire:
A month ago, medical experts warned that an impending series of political rallies could cause a severe outbreak of new infections in West Bengal:
And the Guardian's article describes the 'triumphalism' and complacency that led to the catastrophic second wave:
The Morning Context describes the absence of a plan by the Modi government to tackle the crisis:
BREAKING (TUESDAY 13 APRIL 2021): Dow Jones dumps @AdaniPorts from its sustainability index. Business arrangement with Myanmar military company creates toxic reputation. This is a big rebuke to Adani from an international ratings agency!
Meanwhile, India’s biggest state-owned bank is wary of lending Adani money for its Queensland coal mine, according to a report in the Indian media. The list of international insurers avoiding the contentious mine continues to grow and has reached 33. The Adani Group’s business links with Myanmar’s brutal military are attracting more international criticism. And protests against the Carmichael coal mine have recently ramped up.
Dow Jones's dumping of Adani from its sustainability index has received widespread international coverage. The campaigners at Market Forces are urging people to contact the remaining investors of Adani Ports here.
The State Bank of India (SBI), owned by the people of India, has been torn for several months over whether to loan a billion dollars to the Adani Group for its Carmichael mine, or whether to give the controversial project a wide berth. In early April 2021, it was reported that the bank was ‘dragging its feet’ on deciding whether to provide the loan. The story was taken up by Bloomberg Green and in Australia.
The bank’s wariness is not surprising, given the barrage of warnings and criticism it copped when news of the potential loan broke in last November. French finance giant Amundi threatened to divest from the SBI’s green bonds. And in April 2021, it was reported that a Norwegian ‘bond vigilante’ had warned relevant SBI investors of the reputational risk involved in backing Adani’s climate-wrecking coal mine.
The SBI’s tortured deliberations have occurred as more and more international insurers rule out providing services to the infamous coal mine. In early April, it was reported that another leading Lloyds insurance company has ruled out backing Carmichael, taking the total number of insurers saying ‘no’ to 33.
Meanwhile, the business arrangement between Adani Ports and a company owned by the Myanmar military continues to grow in notoriety. In early April, the New Zealand Super Fund was slammed by the NZ Greens for its investment in Adani Ports. Members of NZ’s two major political parties have also publicly responded to the issue, in stark contrast with the lame justifications issued by their Australian counterparts when a similar investment by Australia’s Future Fund was brought to their attention. Defenders of humanity in Myanmar have called for an international boycott of Myanmar’s military companies by all forms of investor.
No such squeamishness was displayed by Australian citizens taking on Adani in repeated protests against the Carmichael mine. Their bravery in the face of violent reactions and state severity is an inspiring example to the nation.
The construction of a massive international airport on the outskirts of Mumbai is destroying great swathes of mangroves and jeopardising fishing communities. Hills are being levelled and streams filled in. An expanding zone of real-estate development around the airport and its feeder roads will gobble up even more of the coastal ecology and villages. Many local residents are angry at the loss of their land and traditional livelihoods. The Adani Group recently acquired a 23% share in the airport and has clinched a deal to increase that to 74%.
Navi Mumbai, 29 March 2021: On the north-eastern outskirts of India’s commercial capital Mumbai lie lush mangroves that are home to local fisherfolk. Such communities were here even before the port city was built up by the British East India Company in the 17th century. Since the mid-1970s, this landscape has faced urbanisation due to the development of Navi Mumbai, or ‘New Mumbai’, as a planned satellite city. An international airport that is under development here will cause further damage to the mangroves and to the lives of the indigenous fisher communities, classified as marginalised communities by the Indian government. Local people say that they have not been fairly recompensed by the authorities for having to give up their land and livelihoods. In the past year, with an assist from the Modi government’s investigation agencies, the Adani group acquired the development from the previous owner.
According to environmentalist Debi Goenka, quoted by Scroll.in, the Navi Mumbai Airport will end up ‘destroying 400 acres of mangroves, 1000 acres of mud-flats, [and] 300 acres of forest area.’ The authorities will ‘have to divert five rivers, [and] they will have to reclaim that land by filling it up to 11 meters – for that they will have to demolish hills,’ Goenka continued, explaining the wider environmental implications of the project.
The mangroves act as natural buffers against coastal erosion and flooding, and are understood to store up to four times as much carbon as many other forests due to their complex root-systems and the organic soils in which they grow. A 2019 report by climate researchers predicted that much of Mumbai will be under water by 2050 if global carbon emissions are not reduced. A 2005 study by Indian government researchers found that Mumbai lost nearly 40 percent of its mangroves between 1991 and 2001.
Nandkumar Pawar from the village of Bhandup runs the non-profit NGO Ekveera Aai Pratishthan. ‘This ecologically sensitive area was the only source of livelihood for inhabitants. It was also a habitat for more than two lakh (200,000) birds, insects and fish but the government and a private entity have destroyed the area’, he said.
‘There are a lot of laws and authorities and those are not working according to the laws, but it’s not being followed deliberately since there is convenience for the real estate and giant capitalists,’ he added.
Another local citizen critical of the destruction of the environment is Stalin Dayanand, founding member of the NGO Vanashakti (Power of Forests) in Mumbai. ‘Navi Mumbai Airport has faced environmental and land-acquisition problems as well as inhabitants’ opposition but the inhabitants’ voice is not heard’, he said.
Dayanand, a post-graduate in business management, has been identified as a hero by the Mumbai Mirror for taking a stand on behalf of the ecology and traditional livelihoods. In 2018, he was one of the applicants in a legal action against the proposed airport. He said that behind the destruction of one of the great wetlands there is a nexus of powerful interests. He said the Navi Mumbai Airport Influenced Notified Area (NAINA), a proposed planning area aimed at avoiding unplanned development, is already being bought off by the big builders and eventually there will be more destruction.Read more
MEDIA RELEASE BY AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE & JUSTICE FOR MYANMAR, 30 March 2021
Pressure builds on Adani Ports investors as new report reveals Adani Ports paid tens of millions to Myanmar military company. Human rights groups call on Adani Ports’ investors to divest
A new report by the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) and Justice For Myanmar (JFM) exposes shocking new links between Adani Ports, and the Myanmar military owned company Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). Last week, the United States imposed targeted financial sanctions against MEC and another Myanmar military conglomerate, MEHL.
The report ‘Port of Complicity: Adani Ports in Myanmar’ publishes leaked documents establishing for the first time the amount paid by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited’s (Adani Ports) Myanmar subsidiary, the Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited, which is constructing a container port in Yangon on military owned land. The Adani Ports subsidiary paid a minimum of US$30 million in land lease fees to MEC and a further US$22 million in land clearance fees.
The report publishes explosive photos of Adani CEO Karan Adani exchanging gifts with the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in a tour of Mundra Port in India in July 2019. At the time of his visit, the Senior General was barred from visiting the United States because of the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya ethnic minority. Further targeted sanctions, including financial sanctions, against the Senior General were imposed by the USA, Canada, the UK and the EU for his role in the military’s serious human rights abuses, and the recent military coup. The photos contradict Adani Ports’ February 2021 statement that deny engagement with military leadership.
The damning revelations exposing Adani Ports’ financial transactions with the MEC have prompted calls for major investors like HSBC, Norges Bank, BlackRock, PGGP and TIAA among others, to immediately sever ties with Adani Ports.
Building on the legal analysis of the UN Human Rights Council’s International Independent Fact-Finding Mission Report in 2019, the report warns that investments in companies who partner with the MEC can help finance the activities of the Myanmar military. These activities include systematic and widespread human rights abuses, some of which amount to atrocity crimes and are the subject of investigations by international tribunals.
Foreign investments also facilitate endemic corruption which has allowed the military to channel crucial funds away from the public purse. The military led a violent coup on 1 February toppling the democratically elected civilian government, which has resulted in mass repression and the killings of over 250 peaceful demonstrators, and the arbitrary detention of thousands.
The report also finds that contrary to claims made by Adani Ports, the Yangon port operation is connected to its Australia operation through shared management. In Australia, Adani Ports’ direct ties to the controversial Carmichael coal project were recently exposed. Adani Ports owns the Bowen Rail Company which will operate the coal haulage from Adani’s Carmichael mine to its port on the Great Barrier Reef.
The groups warn that investors in Adani Ports are not only supporting Adani’s business dealings with the MEC and the Myanmar military but could also be supporting the funding of critical elements of Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal project.
Pressure is building on Adani Ports investors with major bondholder PIMCO cutting ties with Adani Ports this week over its links to Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal project. The release of the damning new report also comes as the Adani Ports inclusion on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is being reviewed after campaigners raised concerns over its links with the Myanmar military and the Carmichael coal project.
Yadanar Maung, spokesperson for Justice For Myanmar says:
“Adani Ports has continued its business in Myanmar, despite an illegal military coup, and the military’s ongoing crimes against humanity. Adani Ports’ business partner in Myanmar, now sanctioned by the US, is committing crimes against humanity as they deliberately kill peaceful protesters, torture detainees and steal public assets. Adani Ports’ stands complicit in the military’s atrocities and corruption through their direct payments to a military conglomerate. Despite repeated calls, Adani Ports has failed to take action by cutting ties with the criminal Myanmar military. We therefore call on Adani Ports’ shareholders and creditors to uphold their human rights responsibilities by cutting ties with Adani Ports for its continued business with the criminal junta. Stand with the people of Myanmar.”
Ahsan Ul-Haque from the Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia says:
“The images of Adani Ports hosting the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Mundra, India less than two years after the General led a campaign of ethnic cleansing against my people shows that Adani Ports is willing to disregard human rights in pursuit of business profits. Businesses who continue to indirectly support the military through making deals with their companies assist in shielding the military from accountability. It’s time to hold such businesses accountable in the same light. We call on investors to immediately divest from Adani Ports.”
Former Member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, and Member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, Chris Sidoti said:
“The report establishes the links between the Myanmar military and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, which is intimately involved in the Carmichael coal project in Queensland. The question for Australia and Australians is whether we want to be hosting a company that is contributing to the enrichment of the Myanmar military. The question for investors in Adani is whether they want to fund the operations of the Myanmar military, because that is what they are doing indirectly by investing in Adani. This is a question also for sovereign wealth funds and pension funds that should have a highly ethical basis for their investment decisions.”
Rawan Arraf, Executive Director at the Australian Centre for International Justice said:
“We’ve studied several statements from Adani Ports since May 2019 regarding its deal in Myanmar involving the MEC and we have no confidence it will uphold its obligations to respect human rights and disengage from Myanmar. It has been put on notice publicly by the UN on several occasions. At each turn it has denied or obfuscated its commercial operations in Myanmar.”
“Adani Ports has had plenty of time to consider and review its operations in Myanmar. While other major multinational corporations are moving to suspend their operations in Myanmar, Adani Ports appears to have dug in its heels. And that’s appalling. If doing business with those accused of genocide does not trigger a fundamental revaluation of your business, one would have thought, that when your business partner stages a violent coup – that would be the final straw. From our point of view, Adani’s actions or omissions show that it doesn’t care about the human rights impacts of its deal in Myanmar. That’s why we’re calling on governments, investors and shareholders to act and divest from Adani Ports. By doing this, investors are showing that they support and stand with the people in Myanmar in their struggle to end the abuses and economic control of the military.”
Pablo Brait, campaigner with Market Forces said:
“Investors and bond arrangers like Barclays and BlackRock should not be risking their reputations by supporting a company that is so mired in controversy. Adani Ports’ role in the Carmichael thermal coal project – a project that will fuel the climate crisis and the extreme weather it is causing – shows it is not a responsible or ethical company. When you add its reported links to the Myanmar military you get a picture of a company with a very concerning environmental, social and governance risk profile.”
Australian Centre for International Justice: Rawan Arraf, 0450 708 870
Justice For Myanmar, [email protected]
Adani’s developing mega-port in the south-western Indian state of Kerala is disrupting the lives of the local people in ever-expanding circles of impact. AdaniWatch has already reported on the destruction of fisheries, the collapse of coastal dwellings into the sea, and the quarries eating away at the hinterland. Now, hundreds of people are to be dispossessed by an arterial road that will carve its way from Adani’s port through a rural setting of lush vegetation, traditional dwellings, winding lanes and ancient trees. The people are protesting.
In Kerala, the state and national governments are planning to carve a massive ring road to facilitate smooth transportation of goods from Adani’s Vizhinjam mega-port around the state capital to other centres. The project comprises a logistics hub and a six-lane highway surrounded by a growth corridor. This will result in a multi-billion-dollar real-estate bonanza for the likes of Adani.
The growth corridor passes through a verdant rural area of gardens, crops, villages, pathways, shade trees and country roads. A hub will be built in Mangalapuram village. But the villagers have declared that they won’t give up an inch of their land for Adani. Several other villages have declared the same. Residents of Karod village have passed a resolution on this issue and submitted it to the government. Over 1000 people from 170 families are facing eviction.
The government will take over 405 hectares of land for this project. State Finance Minister, Dr Thomas Issac, said that a company will be formed under the executive agency - Capital Region Development Programme II. A master development plan is being prepared.
Meanwhile, coastal residents face a perilous future.
In November, AdaniWatch reported on the collapse of houses into the sea as a result of coastal erosion that some have blamed on Adani. In March 2021, a season of relatively calm seas, 60 metres of the Vizhinjam port breakwater were destroyed by waves. The residents of villages to the north of the breakwater are now bracing for heavy damage to their houses.
In response, a huge protest occurred at the Veliyathura fishing village called for better safety measures to prevent villagers from having to relocate to refugee camps. There was a huge rally one day and on the next, 10 March 2021, a group of women tried to commit suicide by jumping off the sea bridge. Police had to remove them from the scene to prevent mishaps. Such scenes indicate the growing desperation of local people.Read more
On 9 March 2021, Hidme Markam, a respected human-rights defender and a leader of a local anti-mining movement, was effectively abducted by the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. She was taken by police at an International Women’s Day event where she was speaking on behalf of several young women who have lost their lives as a consequence of brutal sexual violence committed by the police and security forces. She is also a staunch opponent of an Adani-operated iron-ore mine at a mountain sacred to indigenous (Adivasi) people.
The incarceration of Hidme Markam is yet another blow to freedom of speech in India. People objecting to her detention can sign a letter of solidarity here. Supporters of Hidme are also urged to write to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh: [email protected]
The police eventually stated that they had arrested Hidme on multiple charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). However, these charges appear to have been concocted post-facto. The police statement of the charge against her is riddled with contradictions. The name used in the documents does not match that of Hidme, a respected public figure whose work is entirely in the public eye, and who has met with police and other officials on numerous occasions to raise cases of human-rights abuses.
Hidme Markam is a leader in the resistance against the Bailadila iron-ore mine which will destroy the Nandraj hill, sacred to the local Indigenous people. Mining in the area by the Adani Group and others would also result in severe ecological damage to the local forest, land and water and is a grave breach of Adivasi constitutional rights. The issue has received widespread media coverage.
As a member of the Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Hidme has been present in numerous public spaces and meetings in Chhattisgarh, asserting the constitutional rights of Adivasi women, especially against displacement and state repression. As convenor of the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee (Committee for Release of Prisoners), she has been vocal in the demand for the release of thousands of innocent Adivasis implicated and incarcerated in false cases.
Hidme is respected by local officials and has had formal meetings with the Governor, Chief Minister and Superintendent of Police to demand the release of arrested Adivasis, an end to construction of para-military camps in the region, and a halt to mining.Read more
A spat has intensified between Adani and the government of the Indian state of Kerala over the non-completion of a massive port project. Since 2015, Adani has been working to turn the port of Vizhinjam into an international trans-shipment container terminal. At commencement, Adani said the project would be completed in 2018, a year ahead of schedule. The company has now missed its own unrealistic target, the contracted deadline, and a deadline extension. Earlier this year, the Kerala government ran out of patience and issued a penalty notice. However, Adani has refused to admit to any fault, resulting in a lengthy and complex arbitration process. This imbroglio has occurred against a background of protests from community groups dismayed at the impact of the port development on livelihoods and coastal ecology.
In January 2021, Adaniwatch reported that the government of Kerala had issued a notice to an Adani Group subsidiary demanding penalties for failing to meet contractual obligations in construction of the Vizhinjam trans-shipment container port. The contracted deadline for completion of the port was 3 December 2019. An extension was granted to September 2020 as a result of cyclone damage, but this deadline was also missed.
The contract allowed the company a six-month, penalty-free extension and an additional six months with a fine. The government had the right to levy $USD 17,000 per day of non-completion. If the project were not completed after the stipulated period, the government could also terminate the contract. The Adani Group has claimed exemptions citing a force majeure clause in the agreement, referring to cyclones, floods, strikes, COVID-19 and an alleged scarcity of rocks to construct the breakwater as reasons for the delay. It requested an exemption from the penalties.
The government rejected that plea, leading to an impasse with major political ramifications. It set a deadline of 3 March 2020 for payment of the penalty. In response, the Adani Group brought in a special mediator and approached the Delhi-based Centre for Alternate Dispute Resolution.
As the rift between both parties grew, a ministerial meeting of the state government held on 3 February 2021 assigned the District Court at the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram to be the arbitration court, forming a three-member tribunal. Two former Supreme Court judges will decide on a presiding arbitrator. Justice Kurian Joseph will arbitrate for the state government and Justice K S P Radhakrishnan will be the arbitrator for Adani. The tribunal will mediate on this issue within 18 months. The costs of the tribunal will be borne by both parties.
Media reports indicate that Adani’s jump towards formal arbitration was premature. On 22 February 2021, the Times of India reported that the Adani Group had rejected the government’s advice to solve the issue through dialogue before moving to litigation. A day later, the Malayala Manorama newspaper reported that, according to the contract, the Adani Group director and the principal secretary of the Ports Ministry were obliged to have a discussion before moving towards formal arbitration.Read more
An Adani port development in the south-western Indian state of Kerala has been beset by delays, court actions, inquiries, government penalties and protests. Construction of the port’s massive breakwater requires millions of tonnes of rock sourced from the hinterland. However, a local movement has developed against new quarries that threaten ancient heritage sites, natural features, rainforests and the stability of the ground itself in an area prone to deadly landslides.
Completion of Adani’s troubled port re-development at Vizhinjam is well over a year behind schedule. The Adani Group has blamed natural disasters and a shortage of rock for the harbour’s new breakwater.
In January 2020, it was reported that a government committee had called for completion of the project within six months, ruling out further extensions to the deadline. The Committee had conducted an inspection of the port site after Adani failed to finish the project in December 2019. The Committee observed that only 600 m of the proposed 3.1-km breakwater had been constructed. The Adani Group said it needed seven million tonnes of rock to complete the project, blaming the delay on a scarcity of suitable rocks. It said that the government had failed to approve sufficient quarries in the state of Kerala and demanded the issuing of more quarry licences.
In response, the committee proposed to allow accelerated rock quarrying for the port construction and suggested that a panel headed by the chief minister and senior government officials should convene a meeting in this regard.
The issue of quarrying in the hilly, forested and populated region inland of the port is a vexed one. In November 2020, Mongabay reported on landslides and fatalities caused by quarrying in the area. Recent developments indicate that Adani’s Vizhinjam port development is a major driver of this damaging form of exploitation.
In 2019, it was reported that the government had issued 19 quarry permits to Adani in Kerala. However, following the August 2019 floods, the state government temporarily banned quarrying in the state fearing further landslides.
See below for the interactive map (above image is an illustration only).
As the Adani Group's businesses proliferate, the group's geographic footprint has enlarged accordingly.
The tentacles of the sprawling Adani Group reach into more and more aspects of the lives on people in India, including coal mines, power stations, ports, edible oils, airports, defence industries, solar power, real estate and gas. Adani in Australia is attempting to open up the vast coal deposits of Queensland's Galilee Basin. Adani in Indonesia is excavating huge quantities of coal from a tiny island off the coast of Borneo. Adani in Myanmar is developing a large container port next to the Yangon River - on land leased from a company owned by Myanmar's brutal military.
The interactive map of Adani's hot spots has been updated to show locations featured in recent stories, such as the East Container Terminal at Sri Lanka's port of Columbo, the immense array of solar panels on farmland at Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu, and the Gondulpara coal block in Jharkhand. It also shows sites featured in numerous stories about the Godda power station and Hasdeo forests.