Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Court action in India against Adani – allegations of ‘coercion, fraud and undue influence’

Adani power plant and coal plans threatened by land owner court action, ABC News, By Stephen Long, 11 July 20

  “……….   Allegations of ‘coercion, fraud and undue influence’

The case filed with the court accuses Adani and its agents of using “coercion, fraud [and] undue influence” to illegally exclude thousands of people affected by the development from a required social impact assessment.

The claimants allege that a key meeting was full of labourers “from far away” who were paid to attend a crucial public hearing about the development and — in conjunction with local police — used brutal force to keep villagers opposed to Adani’s project out.

“Thousands of people gathered to go into the venue site but they were prevented both by the police, who were acting as agents of private company Adani Power Limited, as well as by their security guards,” the writ filed with the court alleges.

“The situation was so bad that the police lathi [baton] charged the affected families. When they tried to attend the public hearing were beaten mercilessly.”

Residents challenge land acquisition

The court case also challenges the forced takeover of land for the development by the State Government on behalf of Adani.

Under Indian law, a government can only acquire land for a private company if the project is for “public purpose”.

The claimants argue the project does not meet the definition of “public purpose” under the law.

Part of their argument is that the power plant will have few local benefits, since the electricity will all be exported and the coal used to generate the power will all be imported — largely from Australia.

“It is crystal clear from the various documents of Adani Power Limited that the power which shall be generated from this private project shall be exported to Bangladesh [while] the coal shall be imported from Australia … to Dharma Port and transported to the project covering a distance of around 700km causing immense pollution in transportation.

“Thus, there is not even a semblance of public interest.”….

The irony is that Jharkhand is a resource-rich state, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the mineral resources of India, and the Adani power project is situated amid some of the richest coal deposits in the nation.

Adani’s own Jitpur coal mine is just kilometres away from the project site; when the plant was first proposed five years ago, this was to be the source of the coal.

But those plans rapidly changed, apparently because under Indian law domestic coal cannot be used for thermal power projects that will export electricity to another country.

So, Adani now appears set to transport imported coal vast distances, at extraordinary expense, into a state that is home to the biggest coal reserves in India…….

‘Land is indispensable to a Santhal’

The patriarch of the Adani business empire, Gautam Adani, is one of the richest men in India, while many of the villagers affected by the Godda power project are from the other end of the wealth spectrum.

Some are from the lowest castes in the Hindu religion and others are from an Indigenous tribal group known as the Santhal.

Archaeologists estimate that the Santhal have been in eastern India for up to 65,000 years. Like Aboriginal Australians, they have an ancient and spiritual connection to the land that has long been recognised in legislation.

“Land is indispensable to a Santhal,” a local villager explained to the independent Indian filmmaker who shared her interviews with the ABC.

“It is an intrinsic part of culture. The Santhal tribe and their land are like two sides of one coin. If land exists, Santhal exists, but if the land is taken away it just means they will be totally wiped out.”

The Santhal have a practice of burying their dead in the fields they sow, which become sacred to them.

One of them says: “We belong here, this is our ancestral land. We are buried on our land. We have no problem dying on our land but we will not give it away.”

Santhal land rights have previously been protected under a long-standing law which prohibited industrial development on their farming lands, but the laws have recently been watered down…….

those fighting the project face a race against time; the High Court case, and a separate environmental challenge before India’s National Green Tribunal — scheduled for hearings in early August — will be of no consequence if construction reaches a point where the development becomes a fait accompli.

Curiously, geopolitics is working in favour of the project’s opponents.

Adani has contracts with a Chinese firm for equipment purchases and engineering work on the power plant.

With a border conflict taking India and China close to war, Adani is facing political pressure to terminate the deal, which could further delay or even jeopardise the project.   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-10/adani-godda-power-plant-threatened-by-land-owner-court-action/12439624

July 11, 2020 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal

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