Geoff Law, AdaniWatch Investigator
Bob Brown Foundation
The COP26 climate summit is nearly upon us and the world’s leaders and press are descending on Glasgow. Accompanying them are tycoons who have made their billions from oil, gas and coal while polluting the Earth’s atmosphere with potent greenhouse gases. On cue, Gautam Adani met with British PM Boris Johnson to spruik his corporate conglomerate’s green credentials. He is supposedly going to spend seventy billion dollars on renewable energy. The reality is that Adani is committed to coal – and not just his existing operations. A multitude of new mines and coal-power stations is on his drawing board, many of them in the rural hinterland of India.
The PEKB coal mine in the Hasdeo forests, photo by Brian Casseywww.briancasseyphotographer.com.
‘When the coal mine was dug, the jungle and the fields were destroyed forever. Taking cattle for grazing stopped and the waterfalls sunk into a hole in the ground.’
This is the dire situation of the indigenous (Adivasi) people of India’s Hasdeo forests. An Adani-operated mine has destroyed part of their ancestral lands and other coal mines have been approved. It’s not just the lands that will be destroyed if Adani’s agenda proceeds; dispossession and displacement will destroy an ancient way of life, as explained by this passionate speech from an Adivasi woman.
In response to this existential threat, the Adivasi drew inspiration from the non-violent struggle practised by Mahatma Gandhi and, on the great man’s birthday, embarked on two weeks of protest. Their 300-km march from their threatened villages to the state capital has been an inspiration for all those tackling Adani’s avalanche of new coal projects. Hundreds of kilometres to the north, another group of Indian villagers whose livelihoods and land are threatened by coal mines have asserted their rights, repelling coalmine officials in a powerful show of force. Local village councils have barred Adani coalminers from the area unless special permission is granted.
The images, stories and posts came thick and fast from the Long March to Save Hasdeo, and the links here are just a selection. More can be found on Twitter (@SHasdeo) or on the BBF Facebook page.
The parallels between India’s Adivasi and Queensland’s Jangan and Wagalingou people are stark. Cultural leaders of the W&J, such as Adrian Burragubba, have fought a tough battle against Adani’s Carmichael coal project, despite huge setbacks. In October, they experienced an important moral victory, with the Queensland police refusing to evict them (despite a complaint from Adani) from a camp near the worksite. This recognition of the cultural rights of indigenous people could have significant ramifications for Adani, as clearing for mine works approaches sensitive cultural sites. Will this be Adani’s equivalent of Rio Tinto’s cultural atrocity at Juukan Gorge?
Meanwhile, as if sensing growing disapproval towards the operations of the Group he heads, Adani has flagged a move into the business of writing and broadcasting the news in India. With the scope of its business activities expanding by the month, the Adani Group is attracting more and more scrutiny of its conduct. The rocket-like rise in the personal fortune of Gautam Adani has also not gone without comment. Many have speculated that the lurch into the news business is the Adani Group’s attempt to greenwash its reputation. This development comes on top of the Modi Government’s choking of criticism of its own agenda of environmental deregulation and resource exploitation.
‘Illegal, arbitrary and beyond the scope of the Act,’ say litigants in a lawsuit against Adani’s takeover of an Indian airport.
On other fronts, AdaniWatch has explored the issues raised in several lawsuits against the rushed privatisation process that led to the takeover of several Indian airports by Adani, despite the Group having had no prior experience in the field. AdaniWatch has also covered a disturbing situation where insiders have alleged that an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing by part of the Adani Group in India has been undermined from within. Adani’s destructive port expansion north of Chennai has also been covered; if it proceeds, it will deplete the treasury of Tamil Nadu, according to several retired senior civil servants.
Adani’s takeover of the Mangaluru airport was ‘illegal, arbitrary and beyond the scope of the Act,’ said the AAI employees’ union to the court. Photo The Hindu
It remains to be seen whether Gautam Adani will address the Glasgow climate summit. If this eventuates, it would be one of the most transparent acts of greenwashing the world has ever seen. Yes, the Adani Group is in the midst of establishing large-scale installations of solar panels across swathes of India (often on habitat of endangered species or land previously used by traditionalfarmers). But the corporate conglomerate that Adani founded is also worsening the world’s deadly addiction to coal with a slew of proposed new coal minesand coal-power stations. Of themselves, they will account for 7% of the world’s carbon budget if the objective of containing global heating to 1.5 degrees is to be achieved.
Solar arrays blanket the landscape in Rajasthan, raising concerns about indigenous livelihoods and wildlife. Image courtesy NS Energy
‘Future demand for coal could hardly be more uncertain, and the Adani Carmichael mine looks more than ever like a massive stranded asset.’
Back in Australia, the media have been full of the fabrications and falsehoods of the government’s policies on energy and climate. Whatever these politicians say about ‘net-zero by 2050’, when it comes to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, they are backing it to the hilt. According to Adani, the mine is almost complete, leading to an outpouring of triumphalism from the project’s backers. If the mine is completed and runs its intended course, it will deliver another dangerous boost to the atmosphere’s temperature. However, many analysts say it will become a textbook case of a ‘stranded asset’. Meanwhile, courageous citizens continue to put their bodies on the line in the fight against the Carmichael outrage.
Protesters outside the London Science Museum, which accepted sponsorship from Adani for a ‘green energy gallery’. Photo 350.org
Similar scenes have unfolded in the UK, where campaigners have occupied the London Science Museum in protest against the sponsorship of a ‘green energy gallery’ by Adani. No matter how much greenwash the Adani Group churns out, the global environment movement will continue to expose its ugly agenda for more and more coal.