Judge Puts Brakes on Hydroelectric Dam Project in Brazil's Amazon Rainforest
A controversial hydroelectric dam project that would have forever changed a portion of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has ground to a halt.Earlier this week, Federal Court Judge Antonio Carlos de Almeida Campelo granted a preliminary injunction to suspend the preliminary license for the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project citing "danger of irreparable harm." He also canceled the construction auction that was set for April 20.
The decision was the result of two public civil actions brought by federal prosecutors who were concerned that the project was unconstitutional, according to a government press release (translated by Amazon Watch).
The project was to be developed on the Xingu River in Para, Brazil, directly affecting the indigenous Juruna people. But Article 176 of the Federal Constitution of Brazil, which addresses the development of hydraulic energy potential, mandates Brazilian law must establish specific conditions on these projects when they are to be conducted on Indian lands.
The federal prosecutors argued there was a lack of regulation of Article 176, and the judge agreed. In his decision, the judge wrote:
It remains proven unequivocally that the Belo Monte hydroelectric will exploit the hydro energetic potential in areas occupied by indigenous people who will be directly affected by the construction and development of the project.
Not only did the judge suspend the preliminary license and cancel the auction, he also said Brazil's environmental agency, IBAMA, cannot issue a new license for the project.
Environmental Disaster Averted
According to a Mongabay.com report, the project would have flooded 500 square kilometers of rainforest and stopped migration of key fish species. In addition, some 12,000 people would have had to be relocated.
The 11,000 megawatt dam would have been the third-largest dam in the world and would have provided enough power for 23 million homes.