Brazilian authorities gave final approval to the controversial Belo Monte dam, reports AFP.
The project — which has been widely opposed by human rights groups, environmentalists, and indigenous tribes — will dam the Xingu river, one of the largest tributaries of the Amazon River. The $11 billion dam will generate 11,200 megawatts of electricity, more than 10 percent Brazil’s current capacity, when it is completed in 2019.
Construction of the dam is expected to displace 16,000 people, according to the Brazilian government, although environmentalists estimate that 40,000 could be forced to move. Amazon Watch, a group campaigning against Belo Monte, says the dam will flood more than 40,000 hectares of rainforest.
“This is a tragic day for the Amazon,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director at Amazon Watch. “By turning a blind eye toward the tragic consequences of this dam, President Dilma Rouseff is undermining the positive environmental and social advances Brazil has made in recent years and miring its image on the global stage just as it prepares to host the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit next year.”
The project is backed by Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES) and a consortium of private companies including Vale, a mining giant.
Construction is expected to break ground immediately. The first building stage will be completed in 2015, according to officials.
(05/02/2011) Brazil’s most controversial mega-dam, Belo Monte, which is moving full steam ahead against massive opposition, has received an extra infusion of cash from Vale, a Brazilian-run mining company.
(03/28/2011) Former US President, Bill Clinton, spoke out against Brazil’s megadams at the 2nd World Sustainability Forum, which was also attended by former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and film director, James Cameron, who has been an outspoken critic of the most famous of the controversial dams, the Belo Monte on the Xingu River.
(02/08/2011) In a protest today in Brasilia, Brazil, indigenous people delivered a petition to authorities signed by 500,000 people calling on them to cancel the controversial Belo Monte dam. They hope the petition, organized by online activist group Avaaz, will help convince Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, to cancel the project. However, actions by Brazil’s first female president have pushed the dam forward.
(01/14/2011) The president of Brazil’s environmental agency IBAMA has resigned over pressure to grant a license for the Belo Monte dam, a hydroelectric project on the Xingu River that faces strong opposition from environmental groups and indigenous tribes, reports O Globo.
(11/11/2010) The struggle against Brazil’s Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River continues as today indigenous groups sent a formal petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to suspend the dam’s construction, stating the dam violates human rights. The dam, which has been contentious in Brazil for decades, would flood 500 square miles of rainforest, lead to the removal of at least 12,000 people in the region, and upturn the lives of 45,000 indigenous people who depend on the Xingu River for survival.
(08/30/2010) The decision last week by the Brazilian government to move forward on the $17 billion Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu river will set in motion a plan to build more than 100 dams across the Amazon basin, potentially turning tributaries of the world’s largest river into ‘an endless series of stagnant reservoirs’, says a new short film released by Amazon Watch and International Rivers.
(08/19/2010) Although developers and government often tout dams as environmentally-friendly energy sources, this is not always the case. Dams impact river flows, changing ecosystems indefinitely; they may flood large areas forcing people and wildlife to move; and in the tropics they can also become massive source of greenhouse gases due to emissions of methane. Despite these concerns, the Amazon basin—the world’s largest tropical rainforest—is being seen as prime development for hydropower projects. Currently five nations—Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—are planning over 146 big dams in the Amazon Basin. Some of these dams would flood pristine rainforests, others threaten indigenous people, and all would change the Amazonian ecosystem. Now a new website, Dams in Amazonia, outlines the sites and impacts of these dams with an interactive map.