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Adani Group’s plan to build one of the largest coal mines in the world that had received a green signal from the federal and Queensland state governments end of last year has run into some fresh protests. This time eminent Australians including former captains of Australia cricket team Ian and Greg Chappell have urged Adani to drop the $21.7 billion Carmichael coal mine project near the Great Barrier Reef.

In a letter to Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, prominent Australians have said, “It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia.”

A delegation from Australia on Thursday visited Adani head office here in Ahmedabad and handed over a ‘No Adani Coal Mine’ letter to the company which has been signed by 90 prominent Australians including senior business leaders, sporting legends, authors, musicians, economists, artists and community leaders from that country.

Apart from the Chappell brothers, the names include Missy Higgins Australian singer, songwriter, Geraldine Brooks AO Pulitzer prize winning author, Terry Hughes FAA Reef scientist, Ian Dunlop Former Chair, Australian Coal Association, Geoffrey Cousins AM Business and community leader, Midnight Oil Australian rock band among several others.

An Adani Group spokesperson confirmed the development and said,”We have received a letter today from 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. The proposed mine in Australia has been cleared after rigorous assessments and strict conditions.”

Adani Group claimed that the proposed mine is supported fully by people of regional Queensland and their elected representatives who in turn represent millions of Australians. The proposed mine will help in providing energy security to millions of Indians who are without electricity while creating thousands of jobs and economic benefits for the state of Queensland in particular and Australia in general. It is a project which will create enormous social and economic value for both the countries of Australia and India.

The Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is set to start construction this year. It involves dredging of 1.1 million cubic meters of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land. The Australian citizens’ delegation plans to meet politicians, business representatives and civil society leaders here.

Businessman Geoff Cousins AM says, “The Queensland Premier and Mayors are on a dangerous junket to promote a damaging project. We are in India to tell Adani that Australians do not want this coal mine and will continue to fight it tooth and nail.”

He further added, “Coal is a dirty, dying industry and polls show the majority of Australians are appalled that Adani is getting a $1 billion handout of public money to finance a project banks won’t touch. We would welcome Adani’s investment in solar instead.”

The letter noted that the Carmichael mine would be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia. Once its coal is burnt, it will contribute more climate-changing pollution to the atmosphere than the entire country of New Zealand does every year. It further said that “Coal is the biggest single cause of air pollution in Australia…Coal burning is a key contributor. Black lung disease has re-emerged in Queensland, afflicting 19 coal mine workers.”

The delegation claimed that this mine proposal does not have wide public support in Australia and does not have the support of the Traditional Owners of the land where the mine would be dug. 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

In the letter, they have claimed that “A recent poll showed 75 per cent of Australians would prefer the funding went towards renewable energy, not infrastructure for coal companies.”

It also alleged that the Queensland and federal governments are bending over backwards to fast-track this mine. “True, they have changed water laws, stripped farmers of appeal rights, are attempting to change native title laws and have earmarked $1 billion of public money to build the rail line,” it read.

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