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Brazil: Judge Overturns Order to Suspend Belo Monte Dam Construction

December 19, 2011 By Staff

Today in Latin America

Top Story — A Brazilian federal judge in the Amazonian state of Pará revoked on Friday his earlier decision to suspend construction on the controverisal $11 billion Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river. Judge Carlos Castro Martins reversed his September order that temporarily halted construction due to concerns that the dam interfered with the flow of the river, potentially harming local fish stocks and the indigenous people living on the river. Martins said Friday that Norte Energia, the company building the dam, had demonstrated that construction would not have the impact on river flow that environmental and indigenous groups claimed. Last week, a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said the Belo Monte Dam would have less impact on the environment than other energy alternatives. However, the 11,000 megawatt dam is expected to flood 200 square miles along the Xingu River and displace approximately 16,000 people. If completed, the Belo Monte Dam will be the third largest in the world after the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Itaipú Dam, shared by Brazil and Paraguay.

Read more from the BBC.

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1 Comment

Jennifer says:

Excellent article about Belo Monte controvercies and related displacement.

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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