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Adani imperils human rights, as well as the environment

  • 13 April 2021
  The Adani Group has, at best, a sketchy corporate record. In matters dealing with the environment, it was negligently responsible for the sinking of the unseaworthy, coal-laden MV Rak in August 2011. The environmental disaster that followed from the incident led to the destruction of a fishing industry, environmental vandalism and a fall in tourism.

In terms of dealing with governments, the company sports an aggressive record of suasion and bribery. Adani’s illegal export of 7.7 million tonnes of iron ore between 2006 and 2010 inspired a campaign of suppression and concealment. The ombudsman of the Indian state of Karnataka was stunned to uncover a bribery enterprise that swallowed up local politicians, customs officials, members of the police force, the State Pollution Control Board, the Port Department and the Weight and Measurement Department.

With such an unprincipled resume, few should have been surprised by the ethical compass of the company in dealing with a different assortment of officials. In Port of Complicity: Adani Ports in Myanmar, the Australian Centre for International Justice and the activist group Justice For Myanmar take the spotlight to Adani Port’s commercial ties with the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) military conglomerate.

In May 2019, Adani Ports entered into an agreement to construct, operate and transfer land held by the MEC for 50 years in an investment valued at US$290 million. Land is being leased for the construction of the Ahlone International Port Terminal 2. The report also reveals that Adani Ports’ subsidiary in Myanmar, the Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited, paid US$52 million to the MEC, including $30 million in land lease land $US22 million in clearance fees.

Any plea of ignorance on Adani’s part is not bound to wash. In 2018, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission issued a call for the top military commanders of Myanmar to be investigated and prosecuted for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity against ethnic groups in the states of Arakan (Rakhine), Kachin and Shan and for alleged genocide against the Rohingya of Arakan state. The mission warned that ‘no business enterprise active in Myanmar or trading or investing in businesses in Myanmar should enter into an economic or financial relationship with the security forces of Myanmar, in particular the Tatmadaw, or any enterprise owned or controlled by them or their individual members’. In 2019, the fact-finding mission listed Adani Ports and its commercial links with the MEC.

The International Criminal Court