A higher court in Brazil lifted an order that suspended construction of the massive but controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the Amazon rain forest, a project expected to face barrage of lawsuits by environmental critics.
Belo Monte, which would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam, has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad over its impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the region.
A federal judge last week ordered construction to be suspended on the grounds that the necessary environmental provisions had not been met.
The Norte Energia consortium building the dam is led by Brazilian state-controlled power utility Eletrobrás. Building costs are estimated to be over US$ 16 billion.
The Belo Monte Dam is to be built on the Xingu River. Its energy generation is calculated to be 11,233 Megawatts (MW), which would make it the second largest hydroelectric dam in Brazil and the third largest in the world, after the Three Gorges Dam (China) and Itaipu Dam (Brazil-Paraguay).
Long a source of controversy the bidding process was halted three times. Celebrities such as the singer Sting and film director James Cameron have joined environmentalists in their campaign against the project.
They say the 6 km dam will threaten the survival of a number of indigenous groups and could make some 50,000 people homeless, as 500 sq km of land would be flooded.