Fishermen in India say a local Adani project is harming them and killing off sea life, warning Australia to be wary as Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk prepares to decide whether to proceed with the Carmichael coal mine.
Ms Palaszczuk and eight regional mayors are preparing to sit down with the chairman of Adani Enterprises, Gautam Adani, ahead of the company deciding whether to proceed with the proposed mine.
The Queenslanders will be shown the Adani’s Gujarat port and power station, which itself has a chequered environmental record, of which the local fishermen said Australia should be wary.
Noor Mohammad — a fisherman in coastal Gujarat —said his home used to be in Mundra, where Adani’s port and power project now stands.
He was forced out when the Adani project started, and relocated with his wife, two sons and their families to a camp nearby.
But he and other fishermen, like Buddha Ismail, said the destruction of tidal mangroves and ash from coal burnt at the power station had damaged the fishing.
“The Adani project is harming us. Their coal dust and stream discharge are harming us,” Mr Mohammad said, adding he now caught a quarter of what he used to.
“There are no fish in the sea water near the coast. All living creatures are dead.”
Adani was heavily criticised for a series of environmental breaches during construction that included destruction of mangroves, failure to regulate the ash generated by the power plant and altering the flow of waterways to the fishing’s detriment.
At Hazira, another site on the Gujarat coast, early last year a court ordered the company to pay nearly $5 million in reparation for illegal construction work, which damaged the environment and deprived 80 fishing families of their access to the sea.
Mr Mohammad and Mr Ismail said based on their experiences Australia should be wary of Adani.
“From our side, we want to tell them that they should force [the] company to run away,” Mr Mohammad said.
“I want to suggest them to not allow an [Adani] plant there,” Mr Ismail said.
The ABC sought comment from Adani on measures it had taken to address the ash problem, identified in a key environmental report in 2013, but received no response before the deadline.
Mundra is slated to receive coal from the Queensland Carmichael mine if it goes ahead.
Adani said coal would help expand power generation, providing some jobs and critically, cheap electricity to 100 million Indians still without.
Despite their criticism, the fishermen both admitted they would see things differently if their sons worked with the company.