Brazil: prosecutors move against Belo Monte dam

Federal prosecutors in Brazil on June 16 called for authorities to halt the eviction of some 2,000 families living in an area of the Amazon rainforest where the huge Belo Monte dam is being built. Prosecutors with the Federal Public Ministry said the consortium building the dam has broken numerous agreements on the relocation of residents. The Norte Energia consortium is violating terms of a contract with guarantees that the indigenous people, peasant settlers and fishermen living in the area would be relocated and provided with alternative means of survival, prosecutors said. The statement especially urged the government to halt the work of a vessel, known as the "demolition boat," hired by the consortium. "It has been travelling along the Xingu River evicting the families who live by the river, in the area to be flooded by the Belo Monte dam," the prosecutors' statement charges.

On May 30, three workers were killed and three more injured in an accident at the Belo Monte construction site, when a silo collapsed as it was being unloaded from a truck.

Construction on the controversial dam in the northern state of Pará was approved by Brazil's congress in 2005 but only began in 2011. The 11,000-megawatt dam would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric producer behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu, which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay. (BBC News, AP, June 17; Agência Estado, June 16; Reuters, May 30)

  1. Belo Monte dam moves ahead —again

    A Brazilian federal court on Jan. 27 revoked an injunction set by a lower court that suspended an operating license for the Belo Monte hydropower project earlier that month.
    Belo Monte's developer, Norte Energia, lost the license on orders from Federal Justice of Altamira Maria Carolina Valente do Carmo just two weeks earlier amid allegations of violating human rights. Reinstatement of the operating license will allow Norte Energia to begin power generation at Belo Monte in the coming weeks, though the plant is not expected to be fully complete until at least 2019. 

    Also in January, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accepted a suit against the Brazilian government earlier this month, demanding a response to grievances expressed by Brazil's indigenous groups. (AP)