Cricket legends Ian and Greg Chappell and at least another 90 prominent Australians have written to businessman Gautam Adani, asking him to abandon his company’s bid to mine coal near the ecologically-fragile Great Barrier Reef.
The Carmichael mines in Queensland, Australia, is expected to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over 60 years, most of which will be exported to India to feed fossil-fuel-fired power plants.
The project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of soil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, one of the wonders of the world for its brilliantly-coloured coral reefs.
In an open letter on Thursday, the legendary Australian brothers and other celebrities asked Adani to abandon the project as it will damage the environment, exacerbate climate change, and trigger adverse public health hazards.
Also, they warned the controversial $21.7 billion project could damage bilateral ties and even hit sporting links.
“It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia,” the letter says.
Ian Chappell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that cricket has “a bit to do with the feeling” between the two countries. “The thought that this (mine) could affect the relationship, hopefully, that’ll get through.”
Environmentalists portend that mining and burning of coal from this mine will release 4.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. That will be more than the total greenhouse emission from New Zealand in a year.
The project located in Galilee Basin in central Queensland has been mired in controversy right from the start — when it was proposed in 2010 by Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the Adani Group.
Besides protests by environmentalists, the project faced legal challenges over land disputes based on claims by indigenous groups.
But Australian government and the Queensland administration has supported the proposed mining, saying it would create jobs for the local population.
The Adani Group has argued that coal from Australia will help India cut down its greenhouse gases and produce a “net positive impact on climate change in the world”.
“India is a large consumer of coal either way. So if Australia doesn’t produce and give India high-quality, highly-sustainable mining, it is going to rely on coal that will come from lesser reliable geographies,” Adani Australia chief, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, told Reuters last December.
But Thursday’s letter calls on Adani, the company’s founder and chairman, to invest in renewable energy instead, and concludes that it would be a “great shame” if the mine damages “the image of India in Australia”.
Besides the former Australian Test cricket captains, authors Richard Flanagan and Tim Winton, Telstra chair John Mullen and investment banker Mark Burrows signed the letter.