Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brazilian judge orders construction of Amazon dam to stop

Tom Phillips in the Guardian (UK): A Brazilian judge has ordered construction to be suspended on a controversial hydroelectric dam in the Amazon. In his ruling, Judge Carlos Castro Martins said that all working on the Belo Monte dam that interfered with the natural course of the Xingu river should be halted because of the risk that fish stocks would be damaged.

The £7bn dam would reputedly be the third largest in the world, after China's Three Gorges and the Itaipu project on the Brazil-Paraguay border. The injunction is the latest development in a decades-long battle against the Belo Monte dam, plans for which were originally conceived in the mid-1970s but subsequently shelved after major protests.

Brazil's government argues that the dam is essential to the energy needs of the country's booming economy. A full environmental licence for the construction was issued in June, with federal authorities promising a series of initiatives to lessen the social and environmental impact of the dam.

But on Tuesday, activists from the anti-dam Xingu Para Sempre movement claimed the project had brought "unprecedented chaos" to the riverside town of Altamira, with thousands of impoverished migrants having arrived by boat or road in search of work...

A Greenpeace protest against the Belo Monte Dam from April 201, shot by Roosewelt Pinheiro/AgĂȘncia Brasil, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Brazil license

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