Brazil judge orders work on huge Amazon dam halted

A spokesman for the Federal Court in Brasilia said Judge Antonio Souza issued the ruling, suspending the Belo Monte project’s environmental license as well work at the dam, located in the northern state of Para, following objections from state prosecutors.

The judge said the license was granted on condition that the environmental commitments be honored.

The ruling also means that Brazil’s BNDES development bank, which is bankrolling the project, is barred from disbursing funds until the commitments are met.

Norte Energia, the consortium in charge of the construction work, told AFP it had yet to be notified of the court’s decision.

Indigenous groups fear the dam across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, will harm their way of life. Environmentalists have warned of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.

Belo Monte, a $13 billion project aiming to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity, is expected to flood a 500-square-kilometer (200-square-mile) area, displacing 16,000 people, according to the government.

It would be the third-biggest dam in the world,after China’s Three Gorges and Brazil’s Itaipu in the south.

Source | AFP

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