Greenlight for Amazon dam project in Brazil

by Antonio Pasolini on August 30, 2010

Via International Rivers

We recently published an article on Brazil’s energy sector as part of our Amazon/Brazil series. The article mentioned a controversial hydroelectric project in the Amazon region called Belo Monte, which has met fierce opposition from environmentalists, indigenous populations and even celebrities like James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver.

Now, Brazil’s President, Lula, has signed a contract allowing the construction of Bela Monte on the Xingu River to go ahead. He said it was victory for Brazil’s energy sector.

But opponents say that Belo Monte, which will be the third largest dam in the world, will devastate the local environment and threaten the lives of thousands of indigenous people living in the area because their land and food sources will be seriously damaged.

Former secretary of environment of Sao Paulo State, Walter Coronado Antunes, has come out in public to say that Belo Monte is “the worst engineering project in the history of hydroelectric dams in Brazil, and perhaps of any engineering project in the world”.

Lula can expect protests to go on and they are likely to become increasingly loud. Alongside environmentalist, indigenous protesters have travelled to Brasilia to protest the signing of the contract. A coalition of organizations have published a declaration against the Belo Monte dam and described the project “death sentence for the Xingu River’ and a ‘scandalous affront to international human rights conventions, Brazilian law and the Brazilian constitution”.

Hydroelectric power is listed as a type of renewable energy, but projects like Belo Monte raise serious questions about their environmental sustainability.

Source: Survival International

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