Brazil Amazon dam project gets new go-ahead

BRASILIA - A Brazilian federal court on Friday overturned a judge’s ruling halting moves towards construction of a huge dam that critics, including Hollywood stars, say will flood vast Amazon tribal areas.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 17 Apr 2010, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:36 AM

“Friday’s decision means that the lower court’s decision, canceling the building license, is now suspended and the permit is now valid and the bidding process can continue,” a spokesman for the regional federal court said.

The 11-billion-dollar project aims to build the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam.

On late Wednesday, Judge Antonio Almeida Campel had upheld a request from the Federal Public Ministry in Para state seeking to have authorizations to build the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River withdrawn.

The dam’s hydroelectric production capacity of 11,000 megawatts would mean submerging some 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of land and would “require excavations equivalent to the work needed to build the Panama Canal,” according to the Public Ministry.

US actress Sigourney Weaver and director James Cameron were among others, including the British singer Sting, who have fought to stop the dam’s construction and had hailed the Wednesday decision as a victory.

The National Electricity Energy Agency said Friday’s federal court decision meant the tender process was now back on track.

“All stages of the process are reopened, and the original dates and deadlines are maintained, with the auction for the tender scheduled for next Tuesday,” it said in a statement.

Belo Monte is set to be the second biggest dam in Brazil and the third biggest in the world, behind the 14,000 megawatt capacity Itaipu dam in southern Brazil and the massive Three Gorges dam in China, which has a capacity of 18,000 megawatts.

Early Friday, one tribal leader, Luiz Xypaia, told AFP that the earlier decision to suspend the work had been “sensible,” hailing it as “a victory for indigenous peoples.”

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