As a grazier in Central Queensland, I’ve been fighting for a long time to protect our groundwater, which is vital for my grazing business. This has has taken me to many lawyers offices, to court, to Parliament and most recently, to India.
I was lucky to have my son look after my beef farm in Central Queensland so I could travel to Gautam Adani’s home-state of Gujarat in India on a fact-finding mission.
After legal battles with GVK Hancock to try protect my groundwater, my wife Annette and I were determined to not let it all go under the bus with Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine.
I wanted to know what sort of company we’re dealing with, and whether the reports of Adani’s poor treatment of local communities and the environment in India stacked up.
This trip was eye-opening, and not only because a bloke from Jericho hardly sees that many people in one place! What I saw sent a shiver up my spine.
I visited small villages in Mundra and Hazira and met with Indian farmers and fishermen. We found much in common. They told me familiar stories of a big company that gets its foot in the door by promising local jobs and a boost to the local economy, but at the end of the day doesn’t really give a damn about their community.
I heard from locals about how Adani has allegedly polluted groundwater, seized land illegally and bulldozed mangrove forests.
The fishermen we met in Hazira say their fishing catch has been reduced by a whopping 90 per cent since Adani built their port. They complain their catch now smells and even tastes bad.
In Mundra I met a date farmer called Valji Gadhvi who lost his entire 10 acres of crop due to coal dust from the nearby Adani power plant. His cotton and castor oil crops have also being damaged.
What worried me most of all were the reports by farmers and pastoralists of their groundwater being polluted and watercourses blocked.
I have already taken GVK Hancock to court twice to stop the risk of their mines ruining the water I need for my stock.
What I saw made me even more nervous about the risks to Queensland’s water security if Adani gets a foothold here.
It was clear that local people who live cheek by jowl with Adani’s coal projects have had their lives made worse, not better.
Many have had their livelihoods destroyed. And, like me, some have been forced to use what little resources they have to fight this big mining company in the courts to get some kind of justice. Some have even been forced to move away.
When I was in India it became very clear to me how dangerously powerful Adani is there and how the company uses its influence to its own advantage. We see it in Australia too.
The Adani Group has Queensland Labor, our local mayors and the Feds bending over backwards to get their mine over the line.
Their biggest backer is Matt Canavan of course, who is desperate to loan Adani (who’s a billionaire himself) $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to allow the project to go ahead.
We cannot afford for our water aquifers to be destroyed by mining or to wreck agricultural industries for temporary employment in an unsustainable coal burning industry.
We can’t afford to lose the Great Barrier Reef, and the tourist industry it supports.
There are signs of a growing resistance.
While I was overseas, 90 influential Australians came out in opposition to the mine, showing that once again, the state and federal governments are wrong about this project.
It doesn’t have wall-to-wall support.
Hats off to Australians like businessman John Mullen and the legendary Chappell brothers who aren’t afraid to call it like it is. They have made a courageous statement by saying Australia can’t afford to host Adani’s Carmichael mine. Never has a truer word been spoken.
- Bruce Currie, Jericho