Wednesday, 6 April 2016

How the Federal and Queensland Governments are betraying The Great Barrier Reef and the people of Australia

This billionare Gautam Adani and his family, through majority ownership of the Adani Group, are apparently considered favoured foreign investors by both the Abbott-Turnbull Federal Government and successive Queensland Governments.

He and his family are responsible for this…..

The bribery…..

ABC 7.30, 17 October 2012:

 Investigators have raised concerns about some of Adani enterprise's dealings with politicians and officials. In August the Auditor-General named Adani Power as one of the companies that received coal deposits from the Government at well below market rates. Gautam Adani declined our request for an interview, but the companies Australian CEO says Adani enterprises has always acted in accordance with the law…..

The Central Bureau of Investigation is now probing allegations of corruption and has opened files on at least seven unnamed companies. The Auditor-General says the lack of a transparent bidding process cost the Government $33 billion in lost revenue…..

Former Chief Justice Santosh Hegde is a well-known anti-corruption campaigner. Last year in his final act as Karnataka State Ombudsman, he released a detail report into the theft of iron ore by numerous companies which cost the state $3 billion in royalties. Justice Hegde's report found Adani Enterprises acted corruptly in the illicit transportation of iron ore in excess of the permitted quantity…..

Justice Hegde's report says the officials of ports department, custom, police, mines, local politicians and others received bribe money from Adani Enterprises.

The pollution…..

Business Standard, 24 December 2015:

Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has issued notices to Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and two major companies handling coal at its terminal under pollution control norms for allegedly causing environmental hazard.

GSPCB has issued show cause notice to MPT, M/s Adani Murmugao Port Terminal Private Ltd and JSW's South West Port Ltd after it was noticed that the dust pollution emanating from the coal handling has increased in the port town of Vasco, 40 kms from here.

Board Chairman Jose Manuel Noronha said the companies and the port administration have been asked why their consent under Water and Air Pollution Prevention Act should not be withdrawn.

"The show cause notices were issued when it was noticed that the coal handling terminals did not take mandatory measures to control the pollution emanating from the coal dust," Noronha said.

The deaths…..

The New York Times, 22 March 2013:

This month, the first comprehensive assessment of the health impact of pollution from India’s coal-fired power plants was published.

The findings are grim. Scientists estimate that exposure to coal-related pollution caused between 80,000 and 115,000 premature deaths and more than 20 million asthma attacks in 2011-12.

The conclusion is particularly worrying, given that the World Resources Institute estimates that 455 new coal power plants are planned in India, more than four times the number that exist now.

UbAlert, 10 April 2015:

Madhya Pradesh: Five people, three laborers and two security guards, died mysteriously in a Neemuch-based private factory on Thursday when they stepped down to clean a 25-feet deep tank filled with impurities generated by oil milling. The incident occurred at Adani Wilmar Oil Limited located four kilometers away from Neemuch district headquarter. Investigation is going on as to what caused the deaths of the factory workers whether it was acid in tank or they died due to suffocation.

The exploitation….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 September 2014:

But a Fairfax Media investigation into the treatment of 6000 construction labourers at a luxury housing project in Gujarat owned by the Adani family has uncovered lax safety standards, underage workers and regular cholera outbreaks from contaminated drinking water.

It comes after Mr Adani's company was found in February to have failed to gain proper environmental approval for construction around India's largest private port, also in Gujarat - destroying mangroves and displacing local villagers.

The poor choice of senior management…..

ABC News, 12 November 2015:

Adani Australia's chief executive officer was in charge of an African copper mine which allowed a flood of dangerous pollutants to pour into a Zambian river, the ABC can reveal.
Jeyakumar Janakaraj has been chief executive of Adani's Australian operations since leaving Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Zambia in 2013.

Now KCM and its parent company Vedanta Resources are being taken to the High Court in London by locals who say pollution from the company's huge Chingola open-pit copper mine made them ill and devastated nearby farmland over a 10-year period from 2004.

Mr Janakaraj was director of operations of KMC when the company was charged in 2010 with causing a serious pollution spill, which saw a toxic brew of highly acidic, metal-laden discharge released into the Kafue River.

The river is one of Zambia's largest waterways and a source of water and food for about 40 per cent of the country's people.

The 31-square-kilometre KCM open pit mine in Zambia's Chingola region is described as the biggest copper mine in Africa, producing about 2 million tonnes of ore a year.

The 2009 annual report of KCM's parent company, London-listed mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources, said Mr Janakaraj was "responsible for overall operations of KCM".

"On [Mr Janakaraj's] watch, significant pollution events happened," lawyer Ariane Wilkinson of Environmental Justice Australia said.

"The court documents show that they discharged what's called a pregnant liquor solution into the Kafue River. That's a highly acidic, metal-laden pollutant, and that it changed the colour of the river."

KCM was prosecuted by the Zambian Government, and the company pleaded guilty to charges of polluting the environment, discharging toxic matter into the aquatic environment, wilfully failing to report an incident of pollution, and the failure to comply with the requirements for discharge of effluent.

The court was told the source of the contamination was the mine's tailings leach plant, with the pollution changing the colour of the Kafue River to "deep blue". The company was fined 21,970,000 Zambian kwacha (about $4,030).

A few months later, in 2011, a Zambian newspaper reported the company's copper mine had again polluted the river, and that environmental authorities were investigating.

The lies told….

The Age, 16 December 2015:

A Queensland court has found Indian mining company Adani exaggerated the economic benefits of its proposed Carmichael coal mine, including the amount of jobs and royalties the $16.5 billion project would generate…..

he court agreed the company had overstated the economic benefits that would flow from its project both in its environmental impact statement and in statements to the court.

Adani has promoted the project as a jobs bonanza for Queensland and its environmental impact statement forecast 10,000 jobs annually from 2024 and $22 billion in royalties.

But Adani's own witness Jerome Fahrer told the court this year the coal mine and connecting rail project would create an average of just 1464 jobs annually, an assessment Queensland Land Court president Carmel MacDonald agreed with.

"Dr Fahrer's evidence, which I have accepted, was that the Carmichael Coal and Rail Project will increase average annual employment by 1206 fte [full time equivalent] jobs in Queensland and 1,464 fte jobs in Australia," her judgment states.

President MacDonald also found Adani's modelling had "probably overstated the selling price of the coal and therefore the royalties generated by the project and the corporate tax payable".

The environmental danger....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April 2016:

But conservationists say the mine is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, citing particular risks to the Great Barrier Reef.

"It's an extraordinary decision, especially coming at a time when the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its worst ever coral bleaching event," Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy said. "We know the bleaching is because of global warming, and Carmichael will only make that worse."

By Adani's own figures, the mine and its coal will emit more than 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. "The pollution from this mine is so big that it cancels the pollution cuts the Turnbull government committed to at the Paris Climate Summit," Ms O'Shanassy said.

The impact of such emissions could be terminal to the reef, according to Dr Veron. "The reef is obviously in dire straights, irrespective of what anyone says, and that's blindly obvious.

"There is extraordinary disconnect between science and the political action. Politicians think the mine is good because it's good for economy, but we are selling out the next generation of Australians as fast as we can go."

Dr Veron has devoted his life to studying coral reefs: he discovered more than 20 per cent of the world's coral species, and has been likened by Sir David Attenborough to a modern day Charles Darwin.

"Roughly a third of marine species have parts of their life cycle in coral reefs," Dr Veron said. "So if you take out coral reefs you have an ecological collapse of the oceans. It's happened before, mass extinctions through ocean acidification, and the main driver of that is CO."

Dr Veron recently travelled to Canberra to talk to government about the decline in the reef. "The politicians do listen to scientists, but that is the worst part of it," he said. 

"If this was all done out of sheer ignorance, that is sort of understandable. It's like child porn – you might say you don't know it exists, but if you know it exists and you do everything to promote it, then that's evil."

The granting of the Carmichael leases coincides with increased concerns over threats to Great Barrier Reef from land-based pollution, including sediments, nutrients and pesticides.

Australian Institute of Marine Science principal research scientist Dr Frederieke Kroon has told the ABC that government policies designed to keep the reef on UNESCO's World Heritage list are insufficient.

"Our review finds that current efforts are not sufficient to achieve the water quality targets set in the Reef 2050 Plan," she said.

The other danger….

The Age, 10 December 2015:

Last week billionaire businessman Gautam Adani paid a visit to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to enact a special law to stop anyone challenging big coal and gas projects once they have been approved by government. This meeting raises questions about the relationship between government and big polluting companies.

The Prime Minister is entitled to meet with anyone he likes, you may very well say, but there are two issues here – one is the fossil fuel industry's direct access to power and the other is the implications of that on Australia's democracy.

Turnbull's back room meeting with international billionaire businessman Adani is an example of the warm reception the fossil fuel industry enjoys in Australia. This direct access to the highest office in our country is an unfortunate feature of our democracy, and speaks of the pernicious dynamic where money enables access to power. Just by the way, according to data released by the AEC, Adani donated $49,500 to the Liberal Party of Australia in the 2013-2014 financial year.

The state government manoeuvres....

Two groups fighting the mine in separate court battles have accused Dr Lynham of abandoning previous assurances that leases would not be granted until two existing cases were resolved.

Just eight weeks ago, Dr Lynham said he wanted to give certainty to Adani and "granting a mining lease in the presence of two JRs (judicial reviews) does not provide the certainty".

Separate Federal Court challenges brought by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners are yet to be concluded.

The Environmental Defenders Office - which is representing ACF in its challenge to the project's federal approvals - has already said it's considering challenging Dr Lynham's decision to grant Adani mining leases.

AAP has asked Dr Lynham to explain why he issued the leases despite the two outstanding challenges.

On ABC radio on Monday, he agreed there was a prospect of further court appeals.

The solemn vow and plea for assistance....

Excerpt from a 4 April 2016 email from Adrian Burragubba on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners:

The Queensland Government just betrayed us.

Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham wrote a letter to us in October, promising he would await the outcome of our Federal Court action against the Carmichael mine before considering issuing Adani with the mining leases. But today the Premier and the Minister double-crossed us.

Adani doesn't have our free, prior and informed consent to build their Carmichael coal mine on our land, and they never will.

The Queensland Government just rode roughshod over our rights and granted the mining leases anyway. They have given Adani the green light to ignore our opposition and to tear the heart out of our country. To destroy our rivers and drain billions of litres of groundwater. To leave a black hole of monumental proportions in our homelands.

The Minister has trashed our rights and pushed the leases out the door in one of the worst acts of bad faith towards Queensland's Indigenous people in living memory.

This fight will define our people and be a landmark moment for Indigenous rights in Australia. Can you help us fight for our rights and our country in court?

Adani and the Queensland Government think they can walk all over us but they've never seen anything like this. Our lands and our way of life, and the legacy of our ancestors, mean too much to our people for us to roll over.

Our resolve is doubled. Minister Lynham can issue all the bits of paper he likes, hide behind false claims of jobs and benefits, and pander to big coal for an unviable project.

But our people's rights are not expendable. This act of infamy will be challenged all the way to the High Court if necessary, and we will continue to pursue our rights under international law. 

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