A diverse list of prominent Australians that includes cricket legends Ian and Greg Chappell have sent an open letter urging billionaire Gautam Adani to withdraw his company’s Carmichael coal project, which they said may wreck the fragile ecology in Queensland.
A group of green activists, who delivered the letter to Adani House in Ahmedabad on Thursday, shouted, “we want solar, but not your coal mine.” The multi-billion dollar project involves coal mining and port operations being developed by the Adani group.
The letter’s signatories also include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, investment banker Mark Burrows and musical band Midnight Oil, who have urged Mr. Adani to abandon the project warning that it could damage bilateral ties and even hit sporting links.
The activist delegation’s leader Geoff Cousins, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, handed over the letter to Adani House. Mr. Adani was not present at the time. “We could have mailed the letter but we wanted to make direct contact with the executives here,” he said.
The open letter cites public opposition, risks to miners’ health, climate change and potential impact on the fragile Great Barrier Reef as reasons not to proceed with the project.
The Adani group issued a media statement, calling it a “motivated exercise.” “We have received a letter today from Mr. Geoffrey Cousins of ACF, whose legal challenge has been dismissed by the Australian courts. We categorically reject such motivated letters of representation by a very small group of 76 misled people.”
Listing various potential dangers to the ecology if the project is executed, the letter stated, “There are concerns about the impact the mine will have on groundwater resources and on nearby farmers who rely on this water for their livelihoods. We urge you to think about global warming and public health and listen to the wishes of the people. It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia.”
Although the Australian authorities have given the go-ahead — the Queensland Premier and six regional mayors are currently visiting India to promote it — the project has been dogged by controversy from the outset amid concerns by traditional Aboriginal landowners and environmentalists over the groundwater impact of the project, and the climate change impact of burning coal from the mine.