Construction on Belo Monte, Brazil’s largest dam, was again halted by a federal court due to concerns over its license, reports Amazon Watch, an NGO that is mobilizing opposition to the project.
“Last week the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF-1) accepted a request made by public prosecutors of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and suspended the installation license (LI- Licença de Instalação) which had authorized the start of construction sites of the Belo Monte Hydroelelctric Dam in 2011,” said Amazon Watch in an emailed statement. “The Court also ruled that BNDES (Brazilian National Development Bank) should not transfer further resources to Norte Energia, the company responsible for construction of the dam complex, before the 40 conditions of the preliminary license (LP-Licença Prévia) are met.”
The 40 conditions include developing infrastructure for health, education and security in cities that will receive thousands of migrants who will come to work on the dam. Norte Energia and the government would also have to remove non-indigenous occupants from the indigenous lands in the region, according to Amazon Watch.
Construction of the Belo Monte Dam project, near Altamira. Photo by © Greenpeace/Daniel Beltra..
The conditions were supposed to have been met before construction moved beyond the preliminary phase of the project.
“In January of 2011 IBAMA [Brazil’s Environmental Agency] granted a partial installation license (LI-Licença de Instalação) that permitted the start of construction solely for the construction sites,” explained Amazon Watch. “The court action by the MPF was filed against this partial installation license, because it had been given without consideration of the constraints issued by IBAMA, considered indispensable prior to the start of any construction.”
Construction of the Belo Monte Dam project, near Altamira. Photo by © Greenpeace/Daniel Beltra.
The suspension isn’t the first time Belo Monte has been halted by a court. But in each previous instance, the order was quickly overruled or suspended.
Human rights groups and environmentalists remain staunchly opposed to Belo Monte, which will flood tens of thousands of hectares of land and require diversion of about 80 percent of one of the Amazon River’s mightiest tributaries. Critics fear the project will spur increased deforestation in the region and necessitate a series of upstream dams, amplifying the impact of the scheme.
Has Brazil turned against its progressive environmental policies?
(09/30/2013) Last year, Brazil rolled back crucial parts of its landmark Forestry Code, potentially opening vast tracts of forest for destruction; it is also moving ahead on a number of Amazon dams, including the infamous Belo Monte, despite international condemnation and conflict with indigenous people. Meanwhile, a new law under consideration proposes allowing large-scale mining in protected areas. Given this a new paper in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science argues that Brazil has thrown off its once admired mantle of environmental legislation, imperiling hundreds of thousands of species in the most biodiverse country on Earth.
Judge halts construction of Amazon dam on Brazil’s Teles Pires river
(09/19/2013) A federal judge in Brazil has ordered the suspension of construction activities on the Teles Pires due to shortcomings in the environmental licensing process, including the project’s impacts on three local tribes, reports International Rivers.
Indigenous peoples resume occupation of Brazil’s Belo Monte dam site
(09/19/2013) 150 indigenous protesters have once again occupied the Belo Monte dam site in an effort to block the controversial project, reports Amazon Watch, an NGO that is helping lead the fight against the dam.
Deforestation will undercut effectiveness of rainforest dams
(05/13/2013) Deforestation may significantly decrease the hydroelectric potential of tropical rainforest regions, warns a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study, used climate, hydrological, and land use models to forecast the impact of potential forest loss on hydropower generation on the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon where the world’s third largest dam — Belo Monte — is currently under construction.
Amazon river ecosystems being rapidly degraded, but remain neglected by conservation efforts
(02/08/2013) The world’s largest river system is being rapidly degraded and imperiled by dams, mining, overfishing, and deforestation, warns a study published last week by an international team of scientists.
Dams are rapidly damning the Amazon
(12/08/2012) Dam-builders seeking to unlock the hydroelectric potential of the Amazon are putting the world’s mightiest river and rainforest at risk, suggests a new assessment that charts the rapid expansion of dams in the region.
Pictures: Destruction of the Amazon’s Xingu River begins for Belo Monte Dam
(04/18/2012) The Xingu River will never be the same. Construction of Belo Monte Dam has begun in the Brazilian Amazon, as shown by these photos taken by Greenpeace, some of the first images of the hugely controversial project. Indigenous groups have opposed the dam vigorously for decades, fearing that it will upend their way of life. Environmentalists warn that the impacts of the dam—deforestation, methane emissions, and an irreparable changes to the Xingu River’s ecosystem—far outweigh any benefits. The dam, which would be the world’s third largest, is expected to displace 16,000 people according to the government, though some NGOs put the number at 40,000. The dam will flood over 40,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, an area nearly seven times the size of Manhattan.
Last chance to see: the Amazon’s Xingu River
(06/15/2011) Not far from where the great Amazon River drains into the Atlantic, it splits off into a wide tributary, at first a fat vertical lake that, when viewed from satellite, eventually slims down to a wild scrawl through the dark green of the Amazon. In all, this tributary races almost completely southward through the Brazilian Amazon for 1,230 miles (1,979 kilometers)—nearly as long as the Colorado River—until it peters out in the savannah of Mato Grosso. Called home by diverse indigenous tribes and unique species, this is the Xingu River.