Resurfacing of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed back in 2019 between India, Japan and Sri Lanka for the development of the East Container Terminal of Colombo harbor, caused quite a controversy in past few weeks in the society.
Under the MOC between the three countries on the development of the East Container Terminal, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) retains 100% ownership of East Container Terminal (ECT), while Sri Lanka retains 51% stake and the 49% stake to Japan and India.
When it was declared that the ETC would be entrusted to India’s ‘Adani Group’, heated discussions began to arise within public as well as in the political arena.
Who is ‘Adani’?
‘Adani Group’ is a Indian multinational company which has expanded roots over several diverse fields such as energy resources, agriculture, logistics, real estate, financial services, defense and aerospace. The chairman and the founder of the company, ‘Gautam Adani’ is the richest Indian after the well known Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. Gautam Adani has acquired a whopping of $ 34.7 billion through his group of companies.
Protests in India
In December last year, Indian farmers rallied the cities against the new farm laws passed by the Indian government. The farmers believed the new laws brought in by the government would favor the two industrialists, Ambani and Adani, who are widely believed to be close to Modi.
The protesting farmers believed that the new laws had been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for such large corporations, eliminating safeguards for farmers and leaving them vulnerable for the tycoons to exploit.
Even on the political arena, the issue is spreading like a fire, clearly showing the notoriety of Adani and Ambani. On a tweet, Indian National Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi stated that,
” ‘The Adani-Ambani farm laws’ has to be revoked. Nothing less is acceptable,”
The main opposition party of India went on to mention that more than 60 farmers have died since the protests began in last November, including 5 suicides against the new farm laws feeding the tycoons Adani and Ambani.
Not a long ago, at least 9 senior journalists were arrested for reporting an incident of Delhi Police shooting a farmer fatally in the head during the protests last week, despite the authorities claiming no shots were fired.
In 2019, Adani Group’s ‘Carmichael coal mine’ one of the largest coal mines in the world, in Queensland, Australia received its final environmental approval by the state-government, after nearly 9 years of planning, fierce protests and endless political debates.
Now Adani’s ‘Carmichael coal mine’ project continues, despite the opposition by the environmentalists over the humongous environmental destruction caused by the project.
In November last year, 2 protesters wearing t shirts printed ‘Stop Adani’, barged into a cricket match between India and Australia at Sydney. They were also carrying signboards ‘no $ 1bn Adani loan.’
Growing activism around climate changes and environmental pollution has been major drivers for this ‘Stop Adani’ movement. Environmentalists believe that the local ecosystem will be deeply affected by the Adani mining operation and endanger the local flora and fauna.
In 2017, Adani Group was brought before the court, after it was accused of allegedly discharging floodwater containing 8 times more than the sediment level from one of its terminals in the coal mine, which was identified as a major threat to the ‘Great Barrier Reef.’
The Climate Council of Australia state that this Adani mine has a great potential to become a carbon bomb and everyone should see it to an end. They point out that it is high time for the authorities to understand the climate issues and pollution caused by the Adani Group.
An Unreliable Company?
In 2011, a ship on its way to Dahej Port in Gujarat from Indonesia, carrying 60,000 tons of coal belonging to Adani Group, sank near Mumbai coast.
In 2016, the Indian National Green Tribunal found out that Adani Group had not taken steps to clean up the coal and oil the ship spilled, over 5 years. The court fined Adani Enterprises, the parent company of the Carmichael mine’s Adani Mining, $975,000 for failing to clean up the environmental damage.
The spill destroyed mangroves, polluted beaches, and caused serious damage to the marine environment and tourism in the area.
It is also alleged that the Australian CEO of Adani Enterprises, Jeyakumar Jenakaraj caused a Zambian river to be acidic, when he was the Director of Operations in a Zambia based copper mining company, Konkola Copper Miners (KMC).
‘Modi’ ; The good old friend!
It is no secret that the chairman of the Adani group, Gautam Adani works closely with India PM Narendra Modi. Adani, also known as ‘Modi’s Rockefeller’ aided Modi in his political campaign and it is a well known fact that Modi even travelled during his campaign in a private jet branded as ‘Adani’.
The wealth of Adani Group has sky rocketed since Modi became the Indian PM in 2014. The company has been granted several multimillion government projects, clearly suggesting the impact of Modi on the Adani group.
Next level port development!
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd.(ASPEZ) owns over 10 ports and terminals. They have gained quite a notoriety for exploitation of labor and looking down at the public when carrying out their projects.
One such recent incidents is the proposed expansion of the Kattupalli port by Marine Infrastructure Development and Private Limited, a subsidiary of of the ASPEZ. According to their schemes, the port will be expanded to a total area of 2472.85 hectares,including 136.28 hectares of existing area, 927.11 hectares of government land, and 613.31 hectares of private land and in addition to this, the plan envisages reclaiming 796.15 hectares of land from the sea following dredging.
The residents of Kattupalli fear, is likely to affect not only them, but cold also affect Pulicat or Pazhaverkadu, located 18 km away. Several hamlets, which depend on fishing for a living fear that their lives may not be the same again. They fear losing their land, facing evictions and not being able to find another source of livelihood.
The people of the area demand to change the venue or to cancel the public hearing. Environmental activists also allege that the proposed master plan includes involves the conversion of wetlands into an industrial area. This they say, will have a drastic impact on food security and drinking water security of Chennai.