By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 19 November 2020: Reports in The Tribune, published from Chandigarh (17 November 2020) that the State Bank of India (SBI) is all set to offer a Rs 5,000-crore loan to Adani Enterprises Ltd’s Australian mining company, now renamed Bravus Mining & Resources, has drawn flak from the environment and other groups in Australia.
The loan would facilitate the digging of the Carmichael coal mine and construction of Adani’s rail line that would open up the Galilee Basin, one of the largest unexploited coal reserves in the world.
Controversy surrounded a proposed loan from the SBI to Adani’s Carmichael project in 2014, which the bank then walked away from. A national day of action calling on the SBI to invest in a safe future and rule out any loan to Adani will take place on 20th November, with protests in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra.
Manjot Kaur, School Striker and university student from the central west coal region in NSW said, “My family in Punjab, India, comes from generations of farmers. My father, grandfather and many before have been farming wheat on the same land for generations. My grandfather has seen the weather change and struggled against drought. Climate change is hurting Indian families right now. If the State Bank of India loans Adani public money for their Queensland coal project, they will be helping fund climate disasters and striking another blow to Indian farmers. Indian farming communities that are fighting for their existence are the ones who deserve support from the state bank, not billionaires’ private coal projects.”
Dr. John Hewson, former leader of the Liberal Party, former Director of Macquarie Bank, and Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU said, “Adani’s Australian operations are already drowning in debt as financial institutions increasingly shun the toxic project which will have disastrous environmental impacts. Funding Adani’s climate disaster would be an extremely risky move, the economics of the project simply don’t stack up. Proper due diligence on this loan would reveal that any public loan to Adani’s coal project is an irresponsible idea. I recognize that State Bank may feel that they are operating in India’s national interest, but handing out public funds for Adani’s coal project would be risky given the urgent global need to reduce emissions, and especially for a project that is destined to become a stranded asset.”
Pablo Brait, a campaigner with Market Forces said, “The State Bank of India must provide assurances that it won’t be handing over $1 billion of Indian taxpayers’ money to a well-connected billionaire for a coal mine in Australia. At a time when India is planning to phase out thermal coal imports, and with renewable energy already outperforming coal economically, we know that this decision by SBI couldn’t be made on financial or economic grounds. India, like Australia, is already grappling with the disastrous impacts of climate change and Adani’s mega-mine will make climate change worse. Adani’s project was a terrible idea in 2015 when the SBI last rejected financial support for Carmichael and is a much worse idea in 2020.”
Claire Galvin, a 19-year-old from North Queensland, said: “As a young Queenslander who’s grown up in Cairns, I’ve watched the Great Barrier Reef suffer back-to-back mass coral bleaching events, caused by climate change. If Adani’s coal mine goes ahead, it will lock in decades of carbon pollution and our Reef and the tourism jobs that rely on it will suffer. That’s why I’m taking legal action along with other young people in Queensland to challenge Adani’s national environmental law approval. The State Bank of India must rule out funding Adani’s coal project. At a time when India wants to phase out imported coal, it’s ridiculous to hand out public money to climate-wrecking coal mines.”
Following the intense controversy, the SBI walked away from a proposed $1billion loan to Adani for the Carmichael coal project in 2015. The decision to grant the loan was made during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia where he and Gautam Adani attended the G20 conference in Brisbane. Indian opposition politicians slammed the loan, calling it ‘crony capitalism’, that would hand Indian taxpayers’ money to a billionaire for a coal project in Australia.
Stop Adani says, “Adani has been forced to self-finance the Carmichael coal project after failing to secure finance from private companies. Over 89 companies have now committed to not supporting the controversial project. The SBI is now at risk of using public funds to finance a project the private sector has shunned, with Indian taxpayers’ footing the bill.”