Melbourne, Nov 9: The coal mine project to be built by India’s Adani group in Australia’s Queensland state, faced a fresh legal challenge from an environmental group seeking cancellation of the government approval.
The group contended that the project would damage the ecologically sensitive Great Barrier Reef and cited that as the reason for seeking its cancellation.
Last month, the Australian federal government gave a fresh approval for Adani’s 16 billion Australian dollars (US $12 billion) Carmichael coal mine project in remote central Queensland.
Challenging the government approval, the Australian Conservation Foundation said Environment Minister Gregv Hunt failed to consider whether the impact of climate pollution, resulting from burning the mine’s coal, would be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
“The Great Barrier Reef is loved by Australians and overseas visitors, but it will soon be gone if we allow climate change to keep accelerating,” ACF President Geoff Cousins said.
“Coral reef scientists are telling us in just a few decades warmer waters could bleach the Reef beyond recognition. This would be a tragedy for Australia and the world,” he added.
“The minister has acknowledged climate change is affecting the Great Barrier Reef, yet the approval of the Carmichael mine will create more pollution, make global warming worse and irreversibly damage the Reef,” Cousins said.
“Taking legitimate legal action in the public interest is central to keeping governments accountable in a democracy,” he added.
Commenting on the development, the Adani Group in a statement said: “Today’s announcement by the ACF is the latest in a litany of attempts by politically-motivated activists seeking to endlessly delay new, job creating projects in Queensland.”
“Adani has consistently said what is required for major job creating resource projects to proceed in this state and in Australia more broadly is regulatory and approvals’ certainty,” it noted.
“It is one thing for a project’s approval to be challenged. It is quite another to wait for previous challenges to fail, then launch new ones on different grounds over, and over again, seeking endless delay, and endlessly abusing process,” the statement added.
First proposed in 2010, the Carmichael project will dig up and transport about 60 million tonnes of coal a year for export, mostly to India.
The mine will cover an area seven times the size of Sydney Harbour. It includes a railway project and was first approved by the government last year.
The opposition from Green groups got significant traction when Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg commented recently that there is “a strong moral case” for mining and exporting coal to poor countries like India.
“Most importantly of all, it will help lift hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty, not just in India but right across the world,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Insiders programme on free-to-air television. “I think there is a strong moral case here.”
The Australian minister while presenting a case said that Adani’s coal mine would create “thousands of jobs” in Queensland as it would mean an investment of 16 billion Australian dollars flowing into the regional communities.