Before signing its new sponsorship deal with Adani, the Science Museum Group (SMG) commissioned two ‘Due Diligence’ reports, as part of its process for deciding whether a company is suitable to partner with.
The first covered parent company, Adani Group, dated 7 December 2020 and is quite the rap sheet. Its 12 pages provide extensive evidence of corruption, environmental destruction, opposition from Indigenous communities, controversy and protest.
It’s hard to understand how the museum then came to the conclusion that this was an appropriate sponsor to partner with, and begs the question: what would a company have to do to be rejected by the Science Museum’s process?
The second report covered Adani Green Energy, one of the six companies within the Adani Group, dated 11 January 2021. The Adani Green Energy (AGE) DD report is extremely basic and appears to have been created rapidly when the SMG decided, apparently in an attempt to distance itself from the controversies associated with other parts of the Adani Group, that AGE would be the title sponsor for the new gallery. There is no new information in this DD report as AGE had already been covered in the Adani Group report, given it’s part of the same group of companies.
Despite the issues raised, the Museum forged ahead and signed a full sponsorship contract with Gautam Adani, Chairman and Owner of the Adani Group on 19 October 2021.
However, both of the reports contain some disturbing gaps, particularly around the long-running controversy, resistance, legal action and violence associated with Adani’s coal mining activities on Indigenous lands in India and controversy around AGE’s acquisition of land, excessive water use, pollution and threats to endangered species.
While the new ‘Energy Revolution’ gallery will focus on climate change, the reports entirely ignore the climate impacts of coal, even though the greenhouse gas emissions from Adani Group’s coal programme will push human society 7% of the way towards a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees.
And, since these reports were created, Adani has been responsible for many even more damaging developments, including:
- announcing a rapid ramp-up of coal production in India and at its Australian Carmichael mine
- starting to fell ancient trees in the sacred Hasdeo forest, sparking a significant ongoing protest by Adivasi people
- blowing up an Indigenous cultural site in Australia against scientific advice
- causing protests and a court order over AGE’s solar developments in Rajasthan
In late January 2023, US short-seller Hindenburg Research published a damaging report alleging the Adani conglomerate’s involvement in “brazen accounting fraud, stock manipulation and money laundering” that they say amounts to “one of, if not the most egregious example of corporate fraud in history.” Some of the report’s most damning findings include evidence of stock manipulation and money laundering through a labyrinth of offshore shell entities, fraud, and accounting irregularities and bogus audits. The Hindenburg report prompted days of falling stocks which saw Adani Enterprises cancel its USD$2.5 billion share issuance. On the same day, Jo Johnson (brother of Boris Johnson) resigned as a director of Elara Capital, a London-based investment bank allegedly linked to the Adani allegations. ESG investors have expressed concerns that Adani’s corporate structure creates an unacceptably high risk that ‘clean’ investments are being siphoned towards coal mining, and subsequently it has been revealed that investments in Adani Green Energy have indeed been used as collateral in a credit facility financing the Carmichael coal mine.
- Summary of Adani Group Due Diligence report
- Summary of Adani Green due diligence report
- What’s missing? The Adani Group report
- What’s missing? The Adani Green Energy report
- What has Adani done since the due diligence report?
Summary of Adani Group Due Diligence report
The main content is summarised below. Click here for the full document.
The initial description of Adani Group does not directly mention coal, even though it is a significant part of its business activities:
‘Adani Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The Group’s primary business interests are its transport, logistics and energy utility portfolio businesses focusing on large scale infrastructure development in India. It also has interests in resources, logistics, agribusiness, real estate, financial services, defence, and aerospace. The group is India’s largest port developer and operator, and its largest private power producer. It also operates the largest dredging fleet in India.’
The first mention of coal comes under the description of the subsidiary Adani Enterprises.
What the museum knew
The question the Due Diligence report asks is: ‘Have any public concerns been raised in relation to the company that could have an adverse impact on SMG?’ Below are the headers they used and a summary of their findings.
A long list, detailing arrests of employees for corrupt practices, charges of bribery and illegal exports, investigations over tax evasion, money laundering and financial fraud, collusion with officials to gain contracts, and fraud to manipulate coal supplies. Many of these cases were ongoing at the time of writing the report.
Fines and litigation
This section details fines by the Competition Commission of India on Adani Gas for imposing unfair conditions and abusing its market position; on Adani Ports for non-compliance of listing regulations; a huge fine of $106.8 million AUS from the Supreme Court in Brisbane for not offering reasonable access to its Queensland coal terminal.
Significantly, it details that in March 2016,
‘Adani Enterprises was accused of engaging in illegal activities by one of its own lawyers. These alleged activities were in relation to the construction of a solar plant in Tamil Nadu, India. The lawyer’s allegations included that Adani was involved in illegal land purchases, as well as submitting fraudulent documents to gain a power purchase agreement which was later used to gain bank loans worth 23 billion rupees (£236 million). Adani denied the allegations and sort [sic] an injunction against the lawyer.’
This includes several examples of fines for causing environmental damage, including:
- In 2011, a ship containing 60,000 metric tonnes of coal for Adani Enterprises sank 20 nautical miles off the South Mumbai coast causing huge environmental damage.
- Two fines for environmental damage caused by the development of ports, including the Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone project after evidence of destruction of mangroves, creek systems and natural seawater flow due to the reclamation, and development of a township, airport, and hospital without the proper environmental approvals.
- In 2017 Adani was fined $12,190 by the Government of Queensland, Australia, for dumping water containing over eight times the permitted amount of sediment into the sea at its Abbott Point port. This polluted water may have reached the Great Barrier Reef. ‘Reportedly, both Adani and the Queensland Government were aware beforehand that this dumping of contaminated water would be unlawful.’
Debt and financial issues
Includes the fact that transfers to the Adani Group from alleged shell companies had been flagged in Suspicious Activity Reports filed to the US financial watchdog in 2020.
Relationship to Prime Minister Modi of India
Highlights Chairman and Founder Gautam Adani’s close ties to Prime Minister Modi of India, and that ‘Their relationship has been criticised as being a source of cronyism and corruption with the Indian government.’
Examples highlighted include:
- accusations Modi’s government bought electricity from Adani at massively inflated prices to benefit the company ‘causing massive losses to public finances’
- the privatisation of 6 airports by the Adani Group, despite the company having no relevant experience in airport management, described as ‘cronyism’ and ‘a clear case of corruption’ and being challenged in the Supreme Court
- accusations the Government has been helping the Adani Group to cover up their alleged scams by halting or prematurely ending investigations into the company’s alleged criminal activities
- allegations the Modi Government had flouted procurement procedure to allow the Adani Group to participate in the manufacturing of submarines for the Indian Navy
In 2014 an investigation into the treatment of Adani Group construction workers in India found evidence of lax safety and sanitation standards, underage workers, below minimum wage pay, and regular cholera outbreaks from contaminated drinking water.
Human Rights Issues
Flags that in May 2019, the Adani Group signed a $290 million deal to develop a port with the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), which is controlled by the Myanmar armed forces, accused by the UN of committing genocide against the Rohingya community.
‘This commercial deal was criticised as helping fund crimes against humanity and enriching the individuals behind the persecution of the Rohingya.’
There is no mention of anything in India.
Carmichael Coal Mine
There is a huge amount of material on the Carmichael Coal Mine in Australia, including:
- Summarising that in 2014 the Australian Government approved the development of the Carmichael Coal Mine, the largest coal mine in Australia, potentially the largest in the world, by the Adani Group. The aim of the mine was initially to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum. It sets out how the approval was criticised by environmental groups for its potential impact on the environment, specifically the Great Barrier Reef, groundwater at its site and high carbon emissions. The mine was approved in June 2019.
‘Adani’s operations in Australia, specifically their acquisition of mining rights in Queensland despite the company’s poor environmental record, have been cited as an example of how Australia’s mining approval system was susceptible to corruption.’
- Multiple legal challenges on environmental grounds, leading to significant delays, changes of plan and funders pulling out of the project. It details fines paid ‘for infringing environmental approval conditions’ and ‘providing false or misleading information to Queensland’s environmental regulator’, and ongoing court cases that had not yet been resolved, including around the company’s ‘North Galilee Water Scheme’; for breaching the Environmental Protection Act by sinking six dewatering bores; and for violating the Australian Government’s common law duty of care to protect younger people against climate change.
- The fact India’s former environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, stated that ‘the development of the mine created an existential risk to the Great Barrier Reef and would cause massive environmental damage to the local area.’
It acknowledges there has been opposition from local traditional owners, and that Adani’s legal strategy in response has been highly aggressive:
- In July 2019, Adani was subject to a legal challenge by a minority group of the indigenous traditional owners of the land, the Wangan and Jagalingou people. The aim of the legal challenge was to invalidate an Indigenous land-use agreement (ILUA) previously approved by seven of 12 native title applicants. The judges unanimously ruled in favour of Adani, stating that the agreement met the legal requirements of the Native title Act. This judgement was partially due to an authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou that voted 294-1 in favour of the land use agreement. However, ABC reported that this authorisation meeting was boycotted by those opposed to the deal, and the official numbers are disputed by attendants at the meeting. Adani was also accused of paying people to vote in favour of the deal.
- In February 2019, the law firm hired by Adani for the Carmichael Mine project, AJ & Co, were subject to criticism due to their self-described “attack dog” strategy. The strategy reportedly recommended bankrupting individuals who unsuccessfully challenge Adani in court, using lawsuits to pressure the Queensland Government, using the legal system to silence protestors, using the police and private investigators to target activists and social media “bias” as a tool to discredit decisionmakers. This strategy was reportedly used to bankrupt the leader of the anti-Adani faction of the mine site’s traditional owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou, Adrian Burragubba. AJ & Co were described in the media as bringing the legal profession into disrepute and were reportedly considered for a professional misconduct investigation by the Australian Legal Services Commission.
- Further detail on the private investigator which is not included in the report: Adani’s lawfirm hired a private investigator that surveyed and followed a community activist and his family and even photographed his daughter on her way to school. His wife Rachel Pennings, said it was “creepy and unsettling not knowing if Adani will follow me and my child again, whether they will try to raid our home again. I’ve never ever been to a Stop Adani protest but they still decided to intimidate me. It’s not right and it shouldn’t be legal.”
Protests against Carmichael Coal Mine
The report acknowledges there have been ‘numerous protests’ against the Carmichael Mine Project including:
- In 2018 thousands of protestors marched on the streets of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns protesting the development of the mine. In April 2019, Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Green Party, led a convoy of vehicles to protest the proposed coal mine. In May 2020, environmental activists staged a “virtual” protest against Marsh, the insurance broker, who are partnered on the project.
- In October 2020, activists staged a protest at the Carmichael Mine site, challenging the company’s water use strategy. In November protestors belonging to the #StopAdani group disrupted an India vs Australia cricket match
- In 2019 the charity Engineers Without Borders Australia decided to end its partnership with engineering firm GHD, who sponsored their community work, over its involvement in the development of the Adani Mining Carmichael project.
- In January 2020, Fridays for Future staged a protest outside the offices of Siemens in Germany demanding that the company cease their involvement with the Carmichael Mine project. Siemens were also called upon by other climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, to end the relationship.
- In August 2020, members of Wangan and Jagalingou people, who are the traditional owners of the land the mine is located on, protested the development of Adani’s Carmichael coalmine by blocking workers from reaching the construction site, stating it was a violation of their sovereign and territorial integrity.
Board of Directors and Management Team
The report notes that both Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group and Rajesh Adani, Managing Director Adani Group are Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Debarred Entities, and Dow Jones lists Gautam as a Special Interest Person.
It notes that in 2014 Gautam Adani and Rajesh Adani were cleared of accusations of alleged cheating and manipulation of share prices of Adani Enterprises but in January 2020, this decision was overturned by a Mumbai Sessions Court and the case against Adani Enterprises will be reinvestigated and subject to a retrial. It also notes that Rajesh Adani was arrested in 2010 for allegedly evading customs duty and undervaluation fraud in Goa.
It also notes that Jeyakumar Janakaraj, Adani Australia’s CEO, was previously Director of Operations of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Zambia.
‘Whilst at KCM, Jeyakumar was responsible for an African copper mine which allowed a flood of dangerous pollutants to pour into a Zambian river, the Kafue River, in 2004. This resulted in widespread illness and devastated adjacent farmland. 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.’
- Transition Pathway Initiative (TPl) Management Quality score: 1 (Adani Enterprises). Assessed on 08/12/2020
- Modern Slavery Act Statement dated within the last 12 months (if commercial organisation supplying goods/ services with turnover over £36m): n/a
Summary of Adani Green due diligence report
This is a much shorter report, just 4 pages to the Adani Group’s 12. Created on 11/01/2021, the only public concern it picks up on is already covered in the Adani Group report:
Accusations of illegal activities
‘In March 2016, Adani Green Energy and Adani Enterprises were accused of engaging in illegal activities by one of its own lawyers. These alleged activities were in relation to the construction of a solar plant in Tamil Nadu, India. The lawyer’s allegations included that Adani was involved in illegal land purchases, as well as submitting fraudulent documents to gain a power purchase agreement which was later used to gain bank loans worth 23 billion rupees (£236 million). Adani denied the allegations and sort [sic] an injunction against the lawyer.’
It also links to the Adani Group report.
What’s missing? The Adani Group report
The climate impacts of coal
There is no mention of the impacts of Adani’s rapidly-expanding coal extraction and coal-fired power stations and their severe impact on the climate. Yet a few months before the report was created, the UN Secretary General António Guterres made a plea directly to India to phase out coal as it will lock in high-emissions infrastructure for decades to come and destroy any hope of staving off climate breakdown. “Investing in fossil fuels means more deaths and illness and rising healthcare costs,” he said. “It is, simply put, a human disaster and bad economics.”
The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency have both warned that reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 means no new coal developments as of 2021.
The only suggestion that climate has been taken into consideration is the inclusion of the Transition Pathway Initiative’s Management Quality Index in the report, which the SMG announced in November 2020 as part of being ‘committed to working with funders who are also on a journey to decarbonise’. It ‘assesses the progress that companies are making on the transition to a low-carbon economy, supporting efforts to mitigate climate change…The data-led approach of working with TPI will provide clarity for partners who aspire to work with us, and it will provide transparency for our audiences, who rightly have high expectations of our museums.’
While there are severe limitations to this use of the TPI tool – it does not score companies on whether their business plans are actually in line with climate science or Paris targets – the only part of Adani Group that has a rating on the TPI index is Adani Enterprises, which gets a 1, almost the lowest possible score. As all these companies are clearly part of the same business conglomerate, this should have disqualified Adani – especially given that the museum had previously rejected a group of oil companies as potential sponsors because one of them only scored a 2. The threshold the SMG has set for its corporate partners is a score of 3 or higher.
Controversy around coal mining in India
Any comprehensive due diligence undertaken by the SMG would have discovered that the Adani Group has been involved in destroying ancient forests – including the ancestral lands of Adivasi (indigenous) people – ruining livelihoods and facing strong resistance from local people.
Hasdeo Forest, Chhattisgarh
In the central east of India, the Hasdeo forest has become a battlefield between Adani’s massive mining operations and local people defending an ancient way of life, with some 18 major coal blocks located in a landscape of high biodiversity and which is inhabited by Adivasi communities. The area is home to a diverse array of mammals (including elephants), fish, reptiles, birds and over 80 species of tree. Local people have tended these forests, including sacred groves of trees, for hundreds of years.
One of the Adani Group’s main enterprises in India is the business of developing and operating mines, particularly coal mines. Adani’s objective is to reach a production level of 200 million tonnes of coal per annum across its mines in India, Indonesia and Australia. The Adani group’s operations in the Hasdeo area have subsequently caused outbreaks of protest by the Adivasi across the region.
This resistance movement in Hasdeo has been strongly, and visibly, active for 10 years. It is ample evidence of the lack of consent by local indigenous communities for Adani’s mining operations. To fail to include this issue entirely is a massive oversight.
“We have been protesting against these mines for the past 10 years. The problem that we are facing is such that it will completely destroy our future generations and our identity. We sat in protest for 70-75 days continuously, after that we walked 300 kms and told them our problems. It’s been four months since then and still we have not been listened to.”Adivasi resistance leader (name withheld), Hasdeo Forest, Chhattisgarh.
Local communities in Hasdeo alleged that the permits to mine were faked. Legally, community consent can only be given by the village assembly of all adults, but this did not happen. This major contravention of the villagers’ constitutional rights, driven by Adani, was reported before the due diligence report came out. The permission to mine should not have gone ahead before this was investigated.
- See this February 2020 story, written from publicly available online pieces, this June 2020 story on the impacts on the elephants of the Hasdeo forest, and this story from July 2020 which looks at some of the social and environmental effects of the Adani Group’s coal-mining operations on the indigenous communities of the Hasdeo forest.
Talabira mine, Odisha
Talabira mine, Odisha, has also had years of protest and claims of illegalities, but doesn’t even get a mention. Talabira villager Dilip Sahu said in December 2019: “We have protected this forest from before there was any law. Today the government claims that we villagers have consented to giving our forests to the company. I want to then ask them, ‘If you have our consent, why do you have to deploy so much police force in our villages for the company to cut our trees?’”
Adani education projects
There are also concerns about Adani’s involvement in schooling for Adivasi children. Survival International says this type of schooling amounts to ‘systematic cultural erasure masquerading as education, and which teach tribal children to feel ashamed of who they are and where they come from’. The Indian tribal rights activist Soni Sori said in January 2020: “We resist this kind of education, whoever it comes from – Adani or anyone. They give their kind of education because they want our children to hate jungles. They want our children to hate their own culture. They want to create distance between children and parents.”
Iron ore mining in the Nandiram hills, Chhattisgarh
There has been strong Adivasi resistance to Adani’s mining in this sacred area, including two Adivasi protesters killed by police in September 2019. More on the protests and political response here.
Coal mining in Indonesia
The Adani Group’s coal mine on the small island of Bunyu, off the coast of north Kalimantan, was not mentioned in the due diligence report, but it has been blamed for loss of agricultural and fishing resources and the degradation of local water supplies.
In early 2019, Indonesian non-government organisation JATAM published a report describing the impacts of mining on Bunyu island. It says that the recent advent of coal mining has had severe impacts on the environment and the traditional way of life of local villagers. Supplies of food such as rice, fruit and vegetables that were once locally obtained in abundant quantities have undergone a serious decline. Forests in important water catchments have been cleared or degraded. Local water supplies from streams, reservoirs, boreholes and roof-fed tanks have become polluted. Many people have had to resort to purchasing bottled water. Fish catches have declined significantly and local industries, such as processing seafood and salak fruit have suffered. Environment group WALHI has gone so far as to warn that Bunyu could become a ‘dead island’ if coal mining continues its relentless expansion.
Environmental destruction of ports in India
The due diligence report touches on the huge environmental impacts of Adani’s massive port building project only in terms of mentioning a couple of significant fines the company received. The full picture is even more disturbing:
- Serious issues prior to February 2020 summarised by AdaniWatch here, including protests, impacts on fishing communities’ livelihoods, and Carmichael mine coal connections.
- The likely impacts of Adani’s massive proposed port expansion at Kattupalli, north of Chennai, was attracting a significant amount of media coverage. The proposal threatens Lake Pulicat and the livelihoods of fisherfolk.
- The Adani Group’s continuing port expansion at Vizhinjam has been blamed for loss of fishing resources, ecological damage and coastal erosion, as reported in these stories on the project, published prior to December 2020.
- While Adani Group’s biggest port at Mundra is mentioned as the subject of government actions, the list of impacts on local people (including health impacts and losses of traditional livelihoods) is disturbing.
Lawsuits and violence around Adani’s coal-fired power stations in India
No attention is given in the due diligence report to the huge controversies in India over Adani’s programme of expansion of coal-fired power stations in recent years.
The Godda coal power plant, ‘the lynchpin in Adani’s convoluted plan to ship Queensland coal 10,000 km so that power can be generated in India and sold across the border to Bangladesh’, was still under construction by the Adani Group in the state of Jharkhand at the time of the due diligence report. It was already notorious for having displaced Adivasi people from their farms and was subject to many legal challenges by people who’d had their land confiscated.
Already in the public domain was this April 2020 interview with a Jharkhand member of parliament telling the story of how a social movement to save ancestral lands from the Godda power plant was crushed, this June 2020 story about the potential impacts of the Godda power plant on the Ganges River (an intended source of water for the plant) and this July 2020 ABC report on coercion, fraud and undue influence exerted by Adani in acquiring land for the project:
‘A court case by locals accused Adani and its agents of using “coercion, fraud [and] undue influence” to illegally exclude thousands of people affected by the development from a required social impact assessment. The claimants allege that a key meeting was full of labourers “from far away” who were paid to attend a crucial public hearing about the development and — in conjunction with local police — used brutal force to keep villagers opposed to Adani’s project out. “Thousands of people gathered to go into the venue site but they were prevented both by the police, who were acting as agents of private company Adani Power Limited, as well as by their security guards,” the writ filed with the court alleges. “The situation was so bad that the police lathi [baton] charged the affected families. When they tried to attend the public hearing they were beaten mercilessly.”
The Adani Group’s proposed Pench coal power plant in the state of Madhya Pradesh has also led to protests and court cases. This August 2020 story refers to physical attacks on protest leaders, allegedly by pro-Adani ‘company goons’, who were subsequently prosecuted. ‘We refused a huge sum offered to us by Adani’s people in lieu of giving up all protests, which we refused, hence we are risking our lives daily as our assailants are still roaming freely’, said Aradhana Bhargav, vice president of the KSS affected farmers’ organisation, one of those assaulted.
Also not mentioned is the Adani Group’s joint venture with Wilmar which makes it a major player in the world’s palm oil industry. Numerous reports have linked Adani Wilmar to the loss of habitat for orangutans and elephants, destruction of rainforests, and exploitation of local people.
What’s missing? The Adani Green Energy report
There was already significant controversy associated with Adani Green Energy in the public domain when the DD report was commissioned. The large-scale takeover of land in India for its sprawling industrial complexes of solar panels had led to protests and court actions by the people affected.
‘Large-scale solar can give India a sunburn’
Indian climate news site CarbonCopy reports that in 2017, Kamuthi villagers raised a big noise about plunging water levels due to Adani Green Energy’s operations. Adani was extracting 200,000 litres of water daily from a village near the Gundar river.
Following a high-decibel public protest, the company was ordered to stop extracting groundwater from that location. Now, the company desalinates groundwater from its site using Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants. RO plants are energy guzzlers and polluting.
According to a worker at one of the units, the plant’s highly toxic saline wastewater is discharged directly on the land. Such disposal is illegal and will pollute it. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s online licence database has no record of licences issued to Adani’s RO plants. The 648 MW-power plant’s licences also expired in March 2018, so from that date, the entire operation in Kamuthi became illegal. Emails sent to Adani Green Energy by CarbonCopy seeking clarification on their operations in Kamuthi have not been answered.
‘How solar farms fuel land conflicts’
This article by Indian news site Mint quotes one of the farmers being displaced by Adani’s vast solar plants, Chanesar Khan: “My grandfather first began to use this land. Our entire family depended on this land.” It sets out how, in the absence of a legal framework to resolve disputes over land, conflicts rage on. The problem is now showing up more prominently in the government’s bid to promote solar parks because they need large tracts of land. “If there is no land title, there is no compensation,” said Govabhai Rathod, convenor of the Zameen Adhikar Jumbesh in Gujarat, which is organising state-wide protests against allotment of government-held lands to large-scale projects. “The government does not care who is dependent on the land. That is why there is a need for a movement.”
“There are (still) large questions about renewable energy,” said Kanchi Kohli, a researcher with the Centre for Policy Research. “If you’re setting it up to address energy security and the environment, but at the same time if it’s built on creating social injustice, how do you call it legitimate?”
‘Fog of emissions, ‘greenwashing’ choking India’s most vulnerable’
France 24 quotes Priya Pillai, one of India’s leading environmentalists:
“This transition is an opportunity to bring more equality and social justice. Instead, what we are basically doing is moving investment from one sector and pushing it into large scale renewables. The question is, is large scale renewable energy any different from fossil fuels? The large scale renewable energy paradigm in this country is no different from the fossil fuel paradigm. It operates very similarly, it involves the same players and the same issues. The fight against climate change needs to be aligned with social equality.”
What has Adani done since the due diligence report?
The report should have set alarm bells ringing at the Science Museum Group, alarm bells that have been borne out by Adani’s conduct since December 2020. This includes:
Adani has recently revealed that its ambitions to ramp up coal production in Australia and India are much higher than it had previously stated, and that it plans to quadruple its output by 2024. It has already been ramping up coal production in India 58% year on year. In Australia, it plans to increase coal shipments through the Great Barrier Reef and is trying to achieve 15 million tonnes of coal exported next year, which “may touch 25 million tonnes to 30 million in the next 2-3 years’ time,” making Carmichael the biggest coal mine in Australia. This directly contradicts the fact sheet Adani sent to brief the Science Museum, which described Carmichael as a 10 million tonne pa mine.
AdaniWatch reported in 2021 in this comprehensive overview of the company’s coal operations that:
‘the greenhouse emissions attributable to the Adani Group’s coal program will push human society 7% of the way towards a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees… According to the Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker (GCPT), the lifetime emissions from Adani Group’s coal power expansions would be 1.8 billion tonnes CO2. This is more than the total 2019 emissions of Japan and Indonesia combined.’Adani Watch
Coal in India
Disputes over coal mining in the Hasdeo forest have started to hit national and international headlines after authorities in India approved two huge new Adani coal projects on Adivasi land in April, defying a vociferous resistance movement.
Approval was given for the vast Parsa mine, located in forests that are home to thousands of Gond and Oraon Adivasi, and Dalit, people. Besides the destruction of people’s lands and livelihoods, 200,000 trees will be felled. It will produce 5 million tonnes of coal a year over 45 years to provide power for the state of Rajasthan – despite Rajasthan having enormous solar energy potential.
The existing PEKB mine, which has already destroyed lands vital to thousands of Adivasi people living in Hasdeo, will be expanded.
Large numbers of Adivasi people are staging an indefinite protest in Hasdeo, with many travelling to join them after ancient trees started to be felled and powerful images emerged of local Adivasi women circling them in an attempt to protect them.
Muneshwar Porte, an Adivasi man from Fatehpur village, which is now scheduled to be destroyed, said:
“We are facing a critical situation now and so we are doing an indefinite protest. If our lands are taken away, our future generations will lose their identity and our existence will be lost forever.”
An international protest spanning four continents in early May showed that the world is watching what is happening in Hasdeo closely. The UK protest made explicit the links with the Science Museum.
Adani also got approval for another two huge coal blocks in 2021, Dhirauli in Andhra Pradesh, and Gondkhairi in Maharashtra.
Ports in India
Opposition to the Vizhinjam port project has escalated, with local fisherfolk launching an indefinite Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance), calling for work on the port to stop as hundreds of people have been left homeless by coastal erosion as a result of the port’s expansion.
Adani Green Energy in India
Protests occurred in August 2021 as Adani solar-power installations encroached on farmland in Rajasthan:
Villagers alleged that farmland had been forcibly occupied by Adani Green Energy preparing to install a large array of solar panels. In August 2021, India’s Economic Times reported on a protest by traditional farmers outside a government office, alleging that the company had encroached on ‘khatedari’, land not formally owned but to which certain farmers have legally-enshrined rights by virtue of long-term use. The report said that protesting farmers alleged that company works had damaged the land with industrial infrastructure, and that company workers had ‘misbehaved’ when women working the land had protested. Local members of the BJP (India’s dominant political party) supported the farmers and wrote to a senior local official demanding action against the company. They claimed that local police were in cahoots with the company and state government in attempting to forcibly possess the land.
This is the latest development in a long-running battle by Rajasthan villagers to keep their land in the face of Adani and other solar companies’ installations.
Concerns have also been raised, backed by a court ruling, that the highly endangered Great Indian Bustard could go extinct due to Adani and other companies’ solar installations in its habitat in Rajasthan.
- There are only around 150 Great Indian Bustards left in the country and India has the only population of this magnificent 1-metre tall ground bird, which used to be widespread but is now critically endangered due to hunting and loss of its habitat.
- In April 2022, a directive by India’s highest court demanded progress reports in complying with an order made last April to place new power lines underground, to protect the Bustard, which requires the arid grasslands of Rajasthan for its survival. The judges based their order on a report by the state-run Wildlife Institute of India, which said that “unless power line mortality is mitigated urgently, extinction of GIBs is certain.”
- It is believed that at least one major solar-power project in Rajasthan has not complied with the directive.
Coal in Australia
- In late 2021, Adani blew up a highly significant Wangan and Jagalingou cultural heritage site containing the highest concentration of aboriginal artefacts ever found on Adani’s vast mining lease. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that archaeologists had told Adani the artefact excavation process was rushed and the site was of “high cultural significance and potential scientific significance” and could be an important source of knowledge of “traditional times”. Adani dismissed their report as ‘based on opinion and without technical mining expertise’ and the Queensland government allowed the destruction to go ahead, despite the recent result of a 16-month federal inquiry, launched in the aftermath of Rio Tinto’s destruction of Western Australia’s 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters, which identified “serious deficiencies” in legislation to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
‘“Adani only plans to mine coal for 24 years, but is destroying ancient cultural sites that are thousands of years old. This is the price that Wangan and Jagalingou people are paying for Adani’s coal: the permanent loss of our cultural heritage and destruction of cultural sites with thousands of artefacts made by our old people. Adani has an obligation to ensure excavation work does not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Queensland government has an obligation to uphold the law: but says there is no evidence Adani has harmed or will have a significant adverse impact on our cultural heritage. In what universe is bulldozing and detonating an ancient cultural heritage site not harmful?’– Adrian Burragubba, Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Elder and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians
- Scientific experts who head up the Recovery Team for the endangered Black-throated Finch recently accused Adani of breaching their legal obligations by failing to consult with experts regarding proposed changes to the plan for how Adani manages habitat for the endangered bird. The experts have also accused Adani of not sharing important data on the birds, which is adversely impacting on their work to update the species’ recovery plan. Leading scientific experts have consistently warned that Adani’s mine will push the endangered finch further towards extinction. The most valuable remaining habitat for the species is on land Adani is digging up for coal.
- Throughout the construction of the Carmichael Mine railway line in 2020-2021 concerns were raised by environmental groups, water experts and workers that the rail line was not being built to an appropriate flood standard and as a result environmental pollution occurred.
- Adani was fined $25,000 for breaching its species management plan and clearing land without key wildlife safeguards.
- In early 2022, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) raised concerns about poor working conditions on the mine. The union has heard from its members that workers are going hungry on the site because of a lack of good food, sleeping facilities are substandard and workplace injuries are being underreported.