The president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, signed the decree for the construction of five new hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin and readies for a renewed attack from domestic and international environmentalists against the project.
The five will be built along the Tapajós River in the state of Pará to which access will only be by helicopter, to preserve the Amazon rain forest and there will be no constructions in the surrounding area to the dams, announced Mines and Energy minister Edison Lobão.
“This new model of hydroelectric dams is almost like a science fiction film, it reminds us of Avatar,” said Lobão in direct reference to film director James Cameron.
Canadian Cameron is one of the most prominent and famous international activists against the construction of the Belo Monte complex in the state of Pará, along the Xingu river and which has witnessed an ongoing court battle.
Brazil is the world’s leading country in hydroelectricity, but the new five dams planned for the Tapajós River will have an ingenious construction system: they will operate with platforms similar to those used for offshore oil drilling and thus avoid urbanization in the surroundings and the need for land links with highways.
Lobão also anticipated that the Brazilian government is ready for environmental complaints in a year in which Brazil next May/June will be organizing the world conference on sustainable development, Rio+20, two decades after the famous Rio Eco 92 which marked the beginning of world debate on global warming.
“We’re expecting a great noise against the new dams on the Tapajós River, but as we have done with Belo Monte we are undertaking all possible environmental considerations with the rigor of control entities. We are abiding all conditions, even in an exaggerated way, but the truth is we can’t stop given the need for power to fuel growth and the well being of the Brazilian people”, said Lobão
The decree signed by Rousseff modifies the boundaries of the five environment conservation units where the dams will be built and should provide Brazil with 10.683 MW. The dams are close to the cities of São Luiz de Tapajós; Jatobá; Jamanxim; Cachoeira de Cai and Cachoeira dos Patos in the state of Pará.
“Those who protest and complain should know that instead of these dams we would end having thermal units fueled with coal, diesel and even nuclear energy. But this energy, from the dams I consider clean and efficient” insisted Lobão.
“The world will be surprised with a technology that is unknown” anticipated the Brazilian minister who revealed that the transmission lines will be above the tree tops.
He added that as promised by President Rousseff, Brazilian know-how will make the Amazon units inaccessible to avoid that the workshop areas become urbanized.
“The staff operating the dams, once the construction is over will be flown in and out by helicopter and all the jungle area opened in support of the construction will be replanted and made again into lush original forest rain”, promised Lobão.