Construction of Belo Monte Dam Blocked by Judge

belo monte protesters photo
Photo via Revista Planetária

After decades of protests against what would be the world's third largest hydroelectric facility, Brazilian officials finally approved construction on the controversial dam at Belo Monte just one month ago -- but hope is not lost for the communities and ecosystem the project threatens to destroy. Late last week, a federal judge blocked the plan, citing the need for further study to resolve some outstanding environmental concerns.A report from The Latin American Times offer more details on the judge's ruling:

Friday's ruling also bans the transferral of funds to the construction companies involved by the state-run BNDES development bank, which is to provide 80 percent of the financing, the court in the northern state of Para, the site of the dam, said in a statement.

Judge Ronald Desterro ruled that the Brazilian Environment and Natural Resources Institute, or Ibama, granted the initial license on Jan. 26 without ensuring that 29 conditions had been met and without the Brazilian state-owned electricity distributor Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco having provided information on another 33 questions which it was required to answer.

Among the conditions that have not been met are measures to guarantee the navigability of the rivers in the region, support programs for the affected Indian populations and plans for restoring areas that become deteriorated.

Plans for constructing the 11,233 MW dam at Belo Monte has been met with heated opposition from indigenous and environmental groups both inside and outside of Brazil. If the project completed, some 121,600 acres of rainforest will be destroyed, and the tens of thousands of mostly indigenous peoples will be forced to relocate.

In contrast, for Brazil's newly elected President Dilma, the dam signals an important step towards producing cheap and renewable electricity, which could offer enough energy to power an estimated 23 million homes and help drive development in the region.


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