The Australian federal government on Monday cleared the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group's $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. The approval for Adani Mining Pty, a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, is subject to “36 strict conditions” put forward by Greg Hunt, Australia's minister for environment. “The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with specific focus on the protection of groundwater. These 36 conditions complement the conditions imposed by the Queensland Government, and will ensure the proponent meets the highest environmental standards and that all impacts, including cumulative impacts, are avoided, mitigated or offset,” said Hunt in a statement released by the Australian government.
Earlier in June, the project hit a roadblock when Hunt had asked for additional time and extended the review for the project following representations of Greenpeace, an international NGO, which had expressed concerns over the destruction that may be caused to World Heritage-listed site, the Great Barrier Reef, due to expansion and development of the port. Greenpeace had argued Adani's expansion in India, including the Mundra port, had come with “destruction of mangroves and severely impacted creeks, mudflats and the intertidal area.” It also argued that the lives of fishermen along the coast of Gujarat had been severely disrupted as lands of many villagers had been swallowed by the development of the SEZ.
It further added, “In India, Adani has a long history of environmental destruction, regulatory non-compliance and other illegal activity, including bribery of government officials, unauthorised construction and tax evasion. The company's unscrupulous activities have come to light via a number of government investigations and court hearings.”
Stating that strict conditions will ensure protection of environment as a paramount concern, Hunt added, “I personally visited the site with the head of the IESC (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Project) and have incorporated all of her suggestions in the conditions. Any matters raised by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee were met with further and strengthened conditions, including requirements for a review of the groundwater flow model and measures to protect the Great Artesian Basin.” The strict conditions being imposed included ensuring that a minimum of 730 megalitres of water be returned to the Great Artesian Basin every year for five years and adaptively managing uncleared habitat to address potential subsidence impacts and groundwater changes.