Brazil, This Week in Latin America

Brazil: Judge Suspends Belo Monte Dam Construction In Amazon

September 30, 2011 By Staff

Today in Latin America

Top Story— According to a decision posted on a Brazilian court website, a judge has suspended construction on the country’s $11 billion Belo Monte dam project because it could harm fishing by indigenous communities on the Xingu River. The Brazilian government, which is keen to build the 11,000-megawatt damn to fuel the country’s growing economy, said it would appeal the ruling. The Norte Energia consortium, which is building what would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric energy producer, said it had not been informed of the ruling. The Belo Monte has gone through a number of redesigns since being proposed in 1979 and has stirred controversy almost since its inception. While the Brazilian government says the dam will be a source of renewable, clean energy with little environmental impact, indigenous groups and environmentalists — including film director James Cameron and musician Sting — claim the dam would destroy wildlife and endanger the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the region.

This is not the first time the project has been suspended. In February a judge ruled that work should be halted – only to have his ruling usurped by a higher federal court judge a week later.

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1 Comment

Jennifer says:

Excellent article,

The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.

India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.

Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

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