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Adanis' conduct "analogous to fraud", allege natives, approach Australian court challenging coalming project

By Our Representative
Despite the recent decision of the Australian government to give green nod to the top Indian industrial house Adanis’ $16.5 billion coalmining project, of the world’s biggest, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council has approached the Federal Court in Brisbane, saying that the mining lease would “extinguish native title on parts of W&J lands and obliterate large areas of the environment and cultural heritage of the W&J people.”
Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader and senior spokesperson of W&J, in a media statement has said that the top natives’ body has “moved” against a decision of the National Native Title Tribunal, supported by the Queensland government. The decision allows mining leases for the Adanis ‘Carmichael coal mine “without consent of the Traditional Owners”, he added.
“The Adanis have justified its mine in the Native Title Tribunal with false claims that it will create 7,000 jobs and generate huge economic benefits. We say that these claims mislead the Tribunal and amount to ‘conduct analogous to fraud’,” Burragubba pointed out.
“The Tribunal accepted the Adanis claims without proper investigation, and put these lies ahead of our rights as traditional owners”, he added, accusing the government authorities of neglecting W&J people’s rights. Adanis are known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one reason why the Australian mining project has acquired national importance in India.
“Further, we were denied natural justice and due process in the Tribunal. My submissions were ignored and proper inquiry into our refusal to consent and our concerns for the protection of our traditional lands and heritage, did not take place”, Burragubba contended.
According to him, “While we are defending our rights in the court and holding Adanis and the State to account, Adanis are attempting to fracture and divide our Native Title Applicant group in an attempt to undermine our people’s previous decision.”
He added, “If Adanis were confident of winning in this case before the Federal Court they would not be coming through the backdoor, interfering in our self-determined decision making processes and attempting to engineer an agreement with my people using every unscrupulous and devious tactic in the book.”
Burragubba said, “The Adanis are acting in violation of our right to self-determination. They will never get consent from me and the other Traditional Owners in Wangan Jagalingou country where they vainly hope to build their mine. It is up to Wangan and Jagalingou people first, without pressure from Adanis or the Queensland Coordinator General, to decide whether we should even entertain such a proposal.”
Pointing towards the need to save environment, Burragubba said, “Our purpose in saving the Doongmabulla Springs, the Carmichael river and the Moray Downs area is to protect the vitally important evidence of our history and connection in the land”, Burragubba stated.
“The significance of the totemic beings, rituals, ceremonies and ancestor dreaming associated with the Carmichael mine area is essential to our identity and to our claim for our rights in land”, he insisted.

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