Mumbai: Adani Group’s request to the Austrialian government to draft a special law that prohibits green groups from seeking repeated judicial reviews of environmental approvals has drawn flak from the country’s leading national environmental organization Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).
“Most Australians would be pretty appalled to hear a private company telling Australia’s government to change our national laws," said ACF campaigner Hannah Aulby on Tuesday. “Taking legitimate legal action in public interest is central to keeping governments accountable in a democracy," Aulby added.
Adani Group’s request for the special law was placed before the Australian government during an hour-long meeting with prime minister Malcolm Turnball on 4 November as the group’s $15 billion Carmichael coal mine, rail and port project in Queensland is stuck since 2010 for want of green nod. Group chairman Gautam Adani said last week that it was seeking a lasting solution to controversry and delay.
“Now it is enough. They cannot continue to challenge the project. They cannot go for judicial review all the time. In OECD countries, you are not given approvals with closed eyes," Adani said in an interaction with reporters last week in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD is a club of rich nations of which Australia is a member.
In 2010, Adani Group acquired the rights to develop the Carmichael coal mine in Galilee Basin of Queensland and a rail link with Abbot Point Port to ship the coal, but the project has been opposed by green groups.
“They are finding some technicality to seek review; that anyone can do. Some technical mistake here and there and they go to court. That will not help the larger interest," Adani said in an interview on 5 December.
Adani had pointed out that the project was “very important" from the point of view of both India and Australia. “It’s the world’s largest coal reserve which will support a minimum 100 million people to have electricity and light and for 100 years," he said.
However, ACF is contesting the claims of Adani Group.
ACF is currently challenging environment minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the Carmichael coal mine, which Adani wants to dig in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
“If it goes ahead it will be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia—and this at a time when the world is desperately trying to move away from climate-changing fossil fuel use," Aulby said.
Aulby said ACF will argue in the federal court that the minister failed to consider whether the impact of climate pollution, resulting from burning the mine’s coal, would be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
On 15 October, the new Australian government re-approved the Adani Group’s coal mine and rail project in accordance with the country’s environment laws, subject to 36 conditions. Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt had said then that the approval is subject to “36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history".
The Carmichael coal mine and rail project is an open-cut and underground coal mine located approximately 300km inland in remote central Queensland in Australia.
Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Adani Group, is developing the controversy-ridden coal mine expected to yield 60 million tonnes per annum and a 189km railway line.
Adani Australia claimed that the mine project will deliver 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to this state.