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Celebrations abound for the environmentalists and indigenous tribes opposing Brazil’s Belo Monte dam after a federal appeals court ordered construction of the giant hydroelectric project to be suspended until local communities are properly consulted about the possible consequences of the dam.
Souza Prudente, the federal judge that made the ruling, said that “the court's decision highlights the urgent need for the Brazilian government and Congress to respect the federal constitution and international agreements on prior consultations with indigenous peoples regarding projects that put their livelihoods and territories at risk. Human rights and environmental protection cannot be subordinated to narrow business interests.”
Once completed the Belo Monte will flood a 500 square kilometre area of the Xingu river, and force the 16,000 indigenous locals to be relocated. The project was approved back during Brazil’s dictatorship and the local villages were never fully consulted about how they might be affected by the dam. The new court ruling attempts to rectify that.
Antonia Melo, coordinator of the Xingu Vivo indigenous movement, told reporters that “it’s a historic decision for the country and for the native communities. It's a great victory which shows that Belo Monte is not a done deal. We are very happy and satisfied.”
Although maybe Sra. Melo should not get her hopes up too much. The $16 billion, 11 GW hydroelectric dam will be the third largest in the world and has been championed by the government for years as one of the pillars which supports Brazil’s efforts to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. The government is unlikely to allow its flagship renewable energy project to remain on hold for long, and the Norte Energia consortium which is building the dam has always been successful with previous appeals.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…