Indigenous landholders in Australia’s central Queensland have decided to take their complaint against Adani’s Carmichael mine to the United Nations.
According to a report published in Sydney Morning Herald, members for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have requested the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples investigate whether Indian company Adani’s Carmichael mine would violate international law and are calling for the UN to intervene by urging the federal and Queensland governments to reject it.
The indigenous landholders’ campaign comes comes after the Coalition government announced plans to crack down on what it has dubbed environmental “lawfare”.
In a letter sent to the UN, the group said that Adani’s mine would violate a number of the rights of traditional owners, including rights to culture, rights to “free, prior and informed consent” and the right to give or withhold consent to “the development of significant extractive industries on our land.”
Their submission further added, “By supporting and facilitating the Carmichael coal mine, Australia is thus violating its duty to protect our fundamental, universally recognised human rights.”
Adani has rejected the allegations denying the charges of “characterisation of a lack of consultation” adding that it had the support of a majority of landholders for the development, In a statement in June the company said it had “launched a comprehensive indigenous participation plan” for all aspects of the project.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that the Queensland government was responsible for the case because granting mining leases was the state government’s prerogative.
Hunt’s spokeswoman said that the minister supported the “rights of Indigenous groups to take their concerns to international bodies.”
She said, “The proponent has consulted extensively with traditional owners across the region with no objections raised at that time by native title claimant groups.”
Adani’s mining project is expected to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year for shipment through the Great Barrier Reef.
But the development has split indigenous families involved in a native title claim over the area where the mine would be built.
In November last year, Adani Enterprises had won crucial support from the Narendra Modi government to help it build a $7 billion coal mine, rail and port project in Australia. The corporate giant had signed a memorandum of understanding to line up a loan of up to $1 billion from the State Bank of India for the Carmichael mine in Queensland.
Adanai, who is a very close friend of Indian prime minister, had said, “The MOU with SBI is a significant milestone in the development of our Carmichael mine.”
But Adani’s SBI deal, which was widely criticised on social media, died a quiet death after media reports suggested that “neither the lender nor the borrower is keen to follow up the agreement that raked up a huge controversy.”