Whitsunday tourism operator Dr Lindsay Simpson wrote the following letter to executives of the State Bank of India following news reports that it was considering funding the Adani Group. Thank you for standing up for our Reef Lindsay!
I am writing because I have just heard the devastating news that the State Bank of India is considering funding the Adani Group $1b to contribute towards building Australia’s largest coal mine.
I am a tourism operator based in the Whitsundays. I also visited India in March 2017 along with three others and wrote a book: Following its Dirty Footsteps: Adani which won a Queensland literary award in November last year.
The book charted my research in India where I was able to witness firsthand what this company was doing to its fellow countrymen. I interviewed a date farmer who had lost all of his cotton and castor oil crops as his farm was 5 kms from the Adani Group’s coal-fired powerplant in Mundra and had been covered in fly ash and coal dust; fishermen whose livelihoods had been stopped because they could no longer access their fishing grounds. I documented how Adani had taken over the water from one entire village and then sold it back to the villagers after using the water for its own commercial purposes. I was told about one village chief who had been jailed because he spoke out about the practices of the Adani Group who was taking over the grazing land in his village. I read reports that continually documented the company’s alleged violations of environmental guidelines as well as non-compliance.
I also heard the stories about the effects of industrialisation (and the Adani group is a key player) to the Gujurat coastline and the Gulf of Kutch, India’s first Marine Wildlife Sanctuary and the effects of opening Gujurat for business by the now Prime Minister of India (then Chief Minister of Gujurat), Modi, which resulted in devastating the marine creatures and coral.
These sad tales have already played out in your country and by assisting this venture, you are contributing directly to our environmental degradation.
One shining light, when I visited India, was the stance of the State Bank of India in not providing a loan to the Adani Group, along with so many other international banks. I also visited the Deutsche Bank recently last February in Frankfurt who had cut ties with the Adani Group after an environmental group took out a one-page advertisement in The Times highlighting the consequences of the mine going ahead. While in Germany, I attended the Siemen’s AGM and addressed the 5000 shareholders about the folly of providing railway signals for the Adani Group’s rail line linking the mine with the port. The decisions by companies such as banks and others not to finance this company will stop these catastrophic ventures in their tracks.
While in India, we interviewed, and I included the interview in my book, with D. Thomas Franco Rajendra, then recently elected as General Secretary of the All India State Bank Officers’ Federation representing some 90,000 officers employed by your bank. He was of the opinion that the mine would not be a big job creator for Australia and he confirmed the bank’s position at that time was not to fund the venture.
I am not sure you are aware how devastated we, as tourism operators (and there are around 70,000 people employed in tourism in Queensland) are by the building of this mine and the consequences for global warming with the access of coal in the previously unmined Galilee Basin.
This has consequences for all of us – across the world – and the future generations and to contribute directly by financing such a dirty venture means you will be complicit in destroying our world for future generations.
I am more than happy to give you further information about the challenging world in which we now operate, already devastated by a global pandemic and facing an uncertain future about the Great Barrier Reef whose largest threat is climate change.