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Relief to Adani Group's Aussie coal-mining project: Top executive not to face action for environmental "damage"

By Our Representative
In an important relief to the Adani Group, which has taken up one of the world’s biggest coal-mining projects in the Queensland province of Australia, the top business house will not be facing any action for its Australian CEO’s alleged links to “polluting” a Zambian mine. The Adani Group is known to be closest to Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared to all other industrial houses.
US edition of “The Guardian” reports, the Australian federal government has decided “not to pursue action against owners of Carmichael mine over its failure to declare that Jeyakumar Janakaraj was in charge of a copper mine that leaked toxic water into a river.”
The daily reports, Australia’s Department of Environment has “completed its inquiries into the omission of a component of the environmental history of one of the executive officers of Adani Mining Pty Ltd,”, adding, “It was found that the omission did not result in environmental harm.”
The enquiry by the Department of Environment also “revealed” that Janakaraj’s “omission was likely due to a mistake”, the daily said, quoting the department’s spokesperson as saying, “In this instance and having due regard to the available responses within the Compliance and Enforcement Policy: Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the department elected to not take further compliance action on this matter.”
Top green NGO Environmental Justice Australia, strongly protesting against the federal government move, said, “Whether or not Adani’s omission to the department caused environmental harm completely misses the point”.
The daily quotes its lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, who said, “This was an important omission in checking Adani’s environmental history, something that must take place before approvals are given. Properly considering a company’s environmental history should inform whether or not you give an approval in the first place, and what kind of conditions you apply.”
“The department’s weak response is disappointing, but also unsurprising. It’s a good example of why the Australian community needs access to the law to hold decision-makers and corporations to account, and to protect our environment”, Wilkinson added.
Reports had appeared in the Australian media that, prior to approving Adani’s proposed $16bn Carmichael mine in Queensland, the federal environment department wrote to Adani’s Australian head, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, seeking information about any executive officer who had “been the subject of any civil or criminal penalties or compliance-related findings, for breaches of, or noncompliance with environmental laws ... [and] information about his or her roles both in Australia and in other countries”.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) had said, in its response, the company failed to mention that Janakaraj himself had been in charge of a copper mine in Zambia that had polluted a major river with dangerous contaminants in 2010.
“Under section 489 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, providing false or misleading information could be an offence”, “The Guardian said, adding, “The Zambian mine was owned by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), for which Janakaraj was head of operations.”
The daily said, “KCM was convicted on four charges, including wilfully failing to report the pollution in the Kafue River, the ABC reported. Janakaraj himself was not charged over the contamination.”
“The federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, approved Adani’s Carmichael mine with the limited information”, the daily said, adding, “A month later ABC revealed KCM’s convictions. The federal environment department then approached Adani to ask why it had not provided this information. The department decided the omission was a mistake and did not warrant further action.”

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