Controversial Amazon Dam Approved

Published by: Antlers on 27th Jan 2011 | View all blogs by Antlers
Controversial Amazon Dam Approved

The Brazilian equivalent of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Ibama, has approved the construction of the Belo Monte power dam, despite the objections of native Indians and conservationist groups.  The consortium undertaking the $17 billion project received licenses from Ibama to clear 588 acres of forest land in the Amazon and begin construction of the dam.

The agency said that the 11,000-megawatt producing dam, which is tentatively scheduled to start producing electricity in 2015, will be a vital source of power for Brazil's rapidly-expanding economy.  Norte Energia, the consortium that placed the winning bid to build the dam, consists of several local construction companies, a large Brazilian pension fund called Petros, and a state-run utility company called Electrobras.

The idea for the dam was originally conceived of some 30 years ago, but protests and regulatory hurdles have delayed the project's start.  Critics of the dam include Greenpeace, as well as Hollywood celebrities such as James Cameron and Sting, who argue that the dam will cause irreparable harm to the local environment and have a negative impact on people living in the region.

The dam, which will stretch 3.75 miles, will reportedly displace at least 30,000 people living on riverbanks, partially dry up a 60-mile stretch of the Xingu River, and flood an area three times the size of Washington, D.C.

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