The Stop Adani Movement
The swelling momentum of the ‘Stop Adani movement’ led by Australian climate change and human right activists is an important development on the environmental accountability front. What initially kicked off as a movement to organise public backlash and issue an enquiry into Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mining project in Queensland, has now managed to cast light upon another instance of acute human rights crisis —that of the Adani Godda power plant in Jharkhand.
The Adani Story: Inspiring or Deceiving?
The Adani group epitomises the Indian success story – one all of us grew up believing in. It’s the story of rural growth, community development, job creation and worldwide-corporate expansion. Suburban trader turned tycoon, the man at its helm, Gautam Adani, makes the perfect poster boy for the rags to riches fable most brown households draw inspiration from. Truth be told, why shouldn’t they? Growing a company from a small-town trading business to a multi-billion dollar conglomerate with operations in over 50 countries is no small feat. To the vast majority of India’s middle-class populace, a deep-rooted veneration for the company’s vision comes naturally.
However, what if, in our reverential stupor, we’ve somehow turned a blind eye to the company’s objectionable acquisition schemes, constant environmental oversight, and promises that often do more harm to than good? What if Adani’s immaculate branding, eco-friendly proposals and squeaky clean media image were all a façade – devised intricately to shroud its less than immaculate core structure?
The Problematic Powerplant At Godda, Jharkhand
A recent example of Adani’s insupportable expansion policy is the Godda electric plant in Jharkhand. The project has brutally swindled land from illiterate villagers, besides dealing irreversible damage to their livelihood, land and cattle. The plant has also rendered their farmlands infertile by permanently depleting the region’s natural resources, including ground-water, followed by high emissions. When the project underwent public hearing in 2017, villagers and local leaders that opposed the plan were barred entry from the apparently ‘transparent meeting’ held to discuss their regional interest. As swarms of destitute tribes gathered to discuss how the plant would damage their livelihood, battalions of armed police charged them with lathis, firing tear-gas to break up the enormous protests that had erupted outside.
Government Involvement And Controversial ‘Public Interest Status’
In 2018, following a few rounds of environmental and public interest meetings held in favour of Adani, Prime minister Narendra Modi, approved plans and declared the power plant a ‘Public Interest Project’. Recognising the deception and governmental connivance in this declaration is key to unmasking Adani’s dodgy, unethical practices. The plant, despite being located in Jharkhand will be fuelled entirely by coal from the Carmichael coal mine, miles away in Australia, and the plant’s power output of roughly 1.6 gigawatts every year, will be sold in its entirety to Bangladesh. Hence, it’s evident that neither does the plant utilise Indian resources nor does it power the very villages it forcefully acquired land from, making it ineligible for classification as a public interest project
Embezzlement of Taxpayer money to serve foreign interests
An enquiry into the electric power-plant’s problematic plan, led by the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha revealed that owing to its special status the plant had received collective funding of a whopping 1.4 billion dollars (nearly ten thousand crore rupees) of Indian taxpayer money, with absolutely no returns or observable benefits to Indian taxpayers. The plant’s approval for a status it wasn’t even qualified for and the law enforcement’s involvement in aiding its illicit land encroachment plans, is solid proof of the central and state governments complicity in Adani’s malignant schemes.
The Humanitarian Crisis
Despite concerns over taxpayer money, the real crisis in Godda is humanitarian in nature as the poor Santhal tribes have become brunt-bearers of Adani’s brutal regime. The initial stage of the plant’s construction saw farmers across the indigenous settlements of Mali, Ghanta, Motia, and Patwa, were dispossessed of nearly 500 acres of fertile land, using coercion. During later stages, those who didn’t comply had their farm-lands snatched away or bulldozed over by company contractors. Women and children alike were reportedly shoved away by company henchmen when they tried to protest Adani’s unlawful occupation of their lands. Men and local leaders have been imprisoned for claiming ownership to the land that was rightfully theirs.
What seems more frightening is that the humanitarian crisis in the region too might merely be the tip of the iceberg. Adani’s high-emission power plant releases solid pollutants into the Ganges and gaseous toxins into the region’s atmosphere, posing severe environmental and wildlife concerns that need to be addressed.
If this harrowing tale of illicit land dispossession, environmental damage and the exacerbating plight of the regions destitute tribes by the expansionist agenda of Adani’s corporate umbrella touched you, then watch this documentary film captured by activists campaigning for the ‘STOP ADANI MOVEMENT’.
Cast a vote on this petition to help bring about change here.
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