Thursday, November 12, 2015

Australian, US environmental groups come up with new "evidence" against Adani Group's coal mining project

An Australian protest against environmental nod to Adanis
By Our Representative
In a fresh attempt to target India’s powerful Adani Group, known to be closest to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Environmental Justice Australia and US-based Earthjustice have said they have found a new “evidence” calling into question “the Adani Group's suitability to run biggest coal mine in Australian history.” The coal mine was recently given environmental nod by the Australian government.
The two environmental groups have come up with a new report which reveals “new evidence” that the CEO of the Adani Group’s Australian operations, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, “was previously Director of Operations of a mining company that pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising out of a water pollution incident in Zambia that took place during his tenure.”
Pointing out that the report suggests the Australian and Queensland governments failed to “properly scrutinise the track record of the Adani Group and its executive officers as revelations of environmental offences committed in Zambia”, the report says, the evidence calls “into question the suitability of the Indian mining giant to run the biggest coal mine in Australian history.”
  Environmental Justice Australia lawyer and report co-author Ariane Wilkinson said, “From 2008 until 2013, the Adani Group’s Australian CEO, Jeyakumar Jankaraj, held senior roles at Konkola Copper Mines, a major copper mining company in Zambia.”
Wilkinson added, “While Janakaraj was KCM’s Director of Operations, KCM polluted the Kafue River – upon which local communities depend for drinking water, fishing and irrigation – with toxic waste water. KCM pleaded guilty to a criminal prosecution for this pollution, and for wilfully failing to report it, and was fined.”
“The Carmichael mine would cause unacceptable harm to the environment and Aboriginal peoples and should in no instance go forward,” said Martin Wagner, Managing Attorney of US-based Earthjustice’s International Programme.
“Moreover, the Adani Group should not be allowed to operate any mine in Australia if it and its executives cannot demonstrate a record of safe mining operations and compliance with the law”, he added.
“This new information about environmental harms and legal violations in Zambia, coupled with evidence of the Adani Group’s involvement in environmental harm in India and failure to comply with Indian law and environmental permits, is relevant to determining whether the Adani Group can make such a showing”, Wagner insisted.
Wilkinson said, “If the offences committed by KCM when Janakaraj was Director of Operations had happened in Australia, they could form a legal basis for cancellation of Adani Mining Pty Ltd's registration as a suitable operator, which is a pre-condition for being granted an environmental authority in Queensland.”
She insisted, “It’s time that Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and the Queensland Director General of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection adequately scrutinise the environmental track record of the Adani Group and properly consider whether it is worth the risk to allow this enormous coal mine, which will impact our Great Barrier Reef, to proceed.”
The report said, "From 2008 to 2013, the Adani Group’s current Australian CEO, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, was Director of Operations and later CEO of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a major copper mining company in Zambia. In 2010, while Janakaraj was KCM’s Director of Operations, the company was criminally prosecuted for polluting the Kafue River with “pregnant liquor solution” – which is toxic waste water generated in copper mining – and for failing to report the pollution. KCM pleaded guilty and was fined.”
The report further said, “This was not an isolated pollution incident, as reports indicate that KCM has a history of pollution in the region. For example, according to news reports.”
It added, “1,800 Zambian villagers recently filed a lawsuit in the UK against KCM's parent company, Vedanta Resources Plc (which is listed on the London Stock Exchange), claiming that as a result of water pollution caused by KCM, people have become sick and died, the soil has become non-productive, and the water smells foul and is discoloured orange.”

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