media issues

Australian journalists allege India visa stonewall months after their network reported on Adani deal

India-born reporter Amruta Slee is among the members of a radio team that was to work on a series of programmes on India after Independence.

Months after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on magnate Gautam Adani’s tangled business dealings, India has not responded to the visa request of a group of journalists from the same network who intended to work on a radio series about India after Independence.

In an article on ABC, India-born reporter Amruta Slee says that she and her colleagues on Radio National, a radio network run by ABC, had received a grant to interview a wide range of people in India, including academics, journalists, environmental activists, satirists and historians. The team booked flight tickets for February and applied for their visas in December.

“Reassurances flowed – this was ‘always the way’, the consulate ‘often waits until the last moment’,” Slee wrote on their efforts to find out the status of their visa as the flight date approached. “But that last moment was a fortnight away, a week away. Then, with days to go, a highly placed government source admitted there was a problem: ‘It’s about the Adani story.’”

Now that their flight date has passed, the team has not yet received an official explanation for why they did not get a visa on time. But neither has the visa request been officially been denied.

“We did receive some strange emails: requests to send a list of who we would talk to and offers to have someone accompany us around Delhi,” Slee added in her article. “There are troubling questions about what this means for Australian journalism.”

The Adanis have proposed to build the world’s largest coal mine at Carmichael in Australia, despite strong protests by environmentalists and indigenous people.

In October, ABC reporter Stephen Long and a team from the network’s Four Corners show published a report on the Adani Group’s links to a tax haven. The report claimed that the Adani Group had not declared to the Australian government that its holding company for their rail and mine project in Australia was actually based in the British Virgin Islands and would therefore be liable to pay far less tax to the Australian government.

On Sunday, the Australian government said it would not finance a AU$900 million rail link from the mine.

Watch the ABC show below.

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