Australian government has defended its decision to grant re-approval to Indian mining giant Adani's 16.5 billion dollar controversial coal mine project on moral grounds by saying it will help lift hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty in India and across the world.
The project located in Queensland's Galilee Basin was last month granted a new approval by Environment Minister Greg Hunt with Green groups immediately threatening a new legal action against the project.
The mine, which would be the biggest in Australia, was approved subject to 36 strict conditions after a Federal Court action sidelined the project earlier this year because of its impact on the ornamental snake and yakka skink, a vulnerable species that hides under rocks.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the project would create "thousands of jobs" in Queensland and result in more than 15 billion dollar in investment flowing into regional communities.
"Most importantly of all it will help lift hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty, not just in India but right across the world," he told the ABC News. "I think there is a strong moral case here."
Frydenberg said that, during discussions with his international counterparts, it was noted that over one billion people around the world did not have access to electricity.
"This means that more than two billion people today are using wood and dung for their cooking. Now the World Health Organisation says that this leads to 4.3 million premature deaths," he said.
"That's more people dying through those sorts of inefficient forms of energy than from Malaria, from Tuberculosis and HIV Aids all combined. So there is a strong moral case that the Green activists sometimes don't comprehend."
Frydenberg said, while there was a downturn in the price of coal, the project had a 40 year lifespan and noted an increasing demand for fossil fuels across the world.
"Energy demand will increase by a third between now and 2040 and the International Energy Agency says 75 per cent of that demand will be met by fossil fuels," he said.
"Now in India they produce their own coal but they can't meet the market because they've got so many people, over 100 million in India who just don't have access to electricity."
Greens Deputy Leader, Larissa Waters, hit back at Frydenberg and said his claim there was a strong moral case for the Adani coal mine was a "sick joke".
"Four out of five people without electricity in India are not connected to an electricity grid so can't access coal-fired power," Waters said.
Waters, who is the Greens climate change spokesperson, said that building electricity grids was slow and expensive while the use of localised, renewable energy was a "much cheaper, healthier solution".