Brazilian court suspends massive Amazon dam construction

August 15th, 2012 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 15 (IANS) A Brazilian court has ordered to suspend the construction of the world’s third largest dam until affected indigenous communities get a hearing in Congress.

The controversial dam, being built at a cost of $9.4 billion to produce 11,000 MW of power, is located in northern Brazil’s Belo Monte Amazon region. It would be the world’s third largest, after China’s Three Gorges hydroelectric plant and Brazil’s southern Itaipu dam, reported Xinhua.

The suspension aims to allow communities in the vicinity of the Belo Monte dam to present their case to Congress, said the judges.

Construction must be suspended, otherwise the company conducting the project would be fined 500,000 Brazilian reais ($247,500) daily.

The suspension can only be revoked after local communities’ concerns have been aired in Congress, the judges added.

Norte Energia, the consortium building the dam, said it had yet to receive the court’s official notification and would carry on with construction.

“We are not against the government’s project, but it cannot be a dictatorial process,” federal judge Souza Prudente said.

Construction of the dam began a year ago amid criticisms from environmental groups and indigenous activists for its potential negative impact on the Amazon region, including deforestation and devastation of local communities. The project was scheduled to be completed by 2019.

If the dam is finished, some 500 square km of land along the region’s Xingu river, a tributary of the Amazon, would be flooded, forcing out about 16,000 residents, according to official estimates.

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