The Xingu river, where the dam will be built. Photo: Leo Freitas.
The environmental Ministry of Brazil has announced a controversial project to build a huge hydroelectric dam in the middle of the Amazon forest has been granted an environmental license. In exchange, the government is asking the winning bidder 803 million US dollars in compensation for ecological damages. Find out why Sting might get annoyed with the news inside.With a 11,000 megawatt capacity, the hydroelectric dam is supposed to be the third largest in the world. It will be built on the Xingu River, in the state of Para, and its goal is to help Brazil cope with the growing demand for electricity it needs to continue growing. Investment is calculated at 17 billion US dollars.
The 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam is part of Brazil's largest concerted development plan for the Amazon since the country's military government cut highways through the rain forest to settle the vast region during its two-decade reign starting in 1964.
Dams, roads, gas pipelines and power grids worth more than $30 billion are being built to tap the region's vast raw materials, and transport its agricultural products in coming years.
Of course, environmental concerns arise: ecosystem disruption, flooding, threatening of fish species and perturbing local tribes are some of the problems the plant could bring.
The plan was controversial enough to call the attention of rock star Sting, who traveled to Brazil last November to ask for more debate.
With the aim of perhaps easing the environmental impact, the government is asking for 1.5 billion reais (803 million USD) to do things like creating national parks, monitor forests and benefit communities affected by the dam. But, Will it be enough?
As we've seen in some studies, hydropower is not the best way to go to produce energy. However, as much as the international community wants to have a say in the fait of the Amazon, as president Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva says, Brazil is free to run the forest as it pleases. Let's just hope then that it's done responsibly.
More on Brazil's plans for the Amazon:
Brazil Announces Plan to Slow Amazon Deforestation by 70%
Camarada, Can You Spare a Few Dollars For the Amazon? Brazil Establishes Forest Fund
Amazon: Brazil Considers Extending Permits to Enter the Jungle