After Three Decades of Delays and Protests Amazon Hydro Project Ready to Start

Brazil's Belo MonteIn Brazil, building will begin now on what should be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam after Ibama, Brazil’s environment agency, gave the go-ahead for the controversial US$ 17 billion project.

A license to build the world’s third largest dam in Brazil was approved by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), despite 30 years of public opposition
Ibama issued licenses to Norte Energia, the consortium in charge of the 11 GW Belo Monte project, to clear 238 hectares (588 acres) of forest land around the Amazonian tributary Xingu.

Licenses still have to be granted to actually build the plant, but Norte Energia, comprised of state-run utility Eletrobrás, Brazilian pension fund Petros, and several local construction companies, expects the 6km-long (3.7 miles) dam to be producing energy by 2015.

Contracts for the dam were signed in August, 30 years after the project was originally conceived. A series of celebrity-backed global protests over the potential damage to the environment and people living in the region had seen the idea abandoned in the 1990s.

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva even opposed the plans before changing his mind and approving the project saying it was necessary for development and job creation – a mindset newly elected president Dilma Rousseff is thought to share.

The dam is likely to displace around 30,000 local inhabitants by flooding a 500-square kilometer area and partially drying up around 100 kilometers of the Xingu river.



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