Ahmedabad: An Australian delegation on Thursday submitted an open letter addressed to Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, urging him to scrap the Carmichael coal mine project.
The letter signed by about 90 Australians including former cricket captains Ian Chappell and Greg Chappell, said Adani group should invest in solar energy instead, said Imogen Zethoven AO, a conservationist and campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
She spoke to reporters outside Adani group’s corporate headquarters in Ahmedabad where she was accompanied by Australian businessman Geoff Cousins AM, reef tourism operator Lindsay Simpson and Bruce Currie, a farmer from Australia.
“It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia,” the letter said, urging Adani to abandon the project.
Imogen claimed that the coal mine project would see 60 million tonnes of coal being shipped every year from the country through the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) for the next 60 years that would put the reef in peril.
In November last year, Adani Enterprises Ltd, an Adani Group company executing the coal mine project, announced plans to develop solar power projects of 1,000 MW capacity in the next five years in Australia.
“We are in India to tell Adani that Australians do not want this coal mine. Coal is a dirty, dying industry that is bad for Australia, bad for the Great Barrier Reef, bad for our health and bad for our future. We welcome Adani’s investment in solar, but we do not welcome investments that damage GBR and our country. The future of India is dependent on solar energy and not coal,” Cousins said.
Adani Group initiated the ($15.6 billion) Carmichael coal project in 2010 with plans to develop a coal mine and a rail link with Abbot Point port, but the venture soon ran into resistance from environmentalists, delaying the project by at least three years before it cleared all legal hurdles last year and got permission from the Australian government to start construction.
“The Great Barrier Reef is the most well known and perhaps the most well loved World Heritage Area on earth. Last year we witnessed the worst coral bleaching on record and another mass bleaching event is currently underway. Adani’s Australian coal project would have a devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef due to the climate change impacts of the coal and also the direct impacts through the expansion of Adani’s coal port and increased shipping through the reef,” Imogen said in an earlier media statement.
An Adani group official, on conditions of anonymity, said a group of people from Australia had come to the group’s corporate office to deliver a letter. He claimed that the group did not want to talk to company officials, but had only come deliver the letter.
“Cricket has a bit to do with the feeling between India and Australia. The thought that this (mine) could affect the relationship, hopefully that’ll get through,” Ian Chappell told ABC television.
A national opinion poll released to coincide with the delivery of the open letter to Adani found that almost two- thirds of Australians would prefer that Adani invest in large-scale solar energy generation rather than a new coal mine in Australia, the petitioners claimed in their open letter.
The petition, according to a Guardian report, was ridiculed by federal government MP George Christensen, who railed against the signatories as “elitist wankers” trying to wipe out job opportunities for struggling Queenslanders.
Christensen said in a statement: “Styling themselves as ‘prominent Australians’, these elitist wankers include investment bankers, CEOs of major corporations such as Telstra, pretentious literati, professional activists and has-been celebrities.
While the coal from Australia would be used to light up power plants in India, Adani group has said in the past that it will create jobs for 10,000 people in Australia.
“A report by PwC quantified the cost of these delays as being some $3 billion to the economy and over 1,600 jobs annually over the first 10 years of the intended projects. In local communities, a state and a national economy crying out for growth, this represents a significant cost to the community, not just to Adani,” the company said in a stock filing statement last year in August.
The coal mine was caught in a number of court room battles however on 19 August last year the Adani won a major legal battle when the Australian apex court dismissed appeals lodged by indigenous community member Adrian Burrgubba as well as a Brisbane-based environmental group against the project.
“We have received a letter today from Geoffrey Cousins of ACF, whose legal challenge has been dismissed by the Australian courts,” a media statement by Adani Group said. “We categorically reject such motivated letters of representation by a very small group of 76 misled people.”