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Brazilian Court Stops Power Plant That Might Disturb Indians

A Brazilian Indian couple

A Brazilian Indian couple Despite the announcement made by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that "the problem of the Estreito power plant has been taken care of and it will be built quickly" during a press conference held on May 15, the preliminary order which suspended the civil construction works is still valid and there is nothing new in the judicial process which would allow the project to be resumed.

On the contrary, last week, chief judge João Batista Moreira of the federal court of appeals of the 1st. region (TRF1) rejected an appeal filed by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment (Ibama) challenging a preliminary order issued by federal judge Lucas Rosendo Máximo de Araújo on April 20.

Rosendo determined that the project should be interrupted in response to a Public Civil Action filed by Cimi (Indianist Missionary Council) and the Association for the Development and Preservation of the Araguaia and Tocantins Rivers. The Estreito power plant is in the state of Tocantins, in a region next to the border with the state of Maranhão.

The lawsuit challenges the license issued for building the plant, since the Environmental Impact Study carried out by the Estreito Energia Consortium did not include an analysis of the direct or indirect impacts of the plant on indigenous populations in the region.

And the National Congress has not issues any authorization for the project, which is required when water resources are utilized in indigenous lands. Estreito is the largest power plant of 45 for which bids were invited to be built in the 1998-2002 period.

At the press conference on May 15, the Federal Government questioned the preliminary order in another regard also: a request for security suspension was sent to the chief justice of TRF1, Assuzete Magalhães. At the request of the chief justice of the TRF, the Federal Prosecutor's Office will analyze the request before she issues a decision.

Underestimated Costs

When he spoke about the power plants in the Madeira river, in the state of Rondônia -  the Jirau and Santo Antônio power plants -, president Lula underestimated the costs of the projects.

"These are two important power plants for the country that will cost more than US$ 4.5 billion and will generate more than 3,500 megawatts each and they are necessary projects for the future of this country from 2012 onward," he said.

The Carta Maior news agency found out that, according to the last estimates of the companies in charge of implementing the project – the Furnas estate enterprise and the Norberto Odebrecht company -, the cost of the projects should amount to US$ 12.5 billion, plus other costs with transmission cables, which will transport the electricity from the middle of the Amazon region to customers in the center-south regions.

Encounter

The first meeting of the National Indigenous Policy Committee (CNPI) will be held on June 4 and 5 at the Ministry of Justice in Brasí­lia. The information was provided by the National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai) in response to a question asked by the Forum in Defense of Indigenous Rights.

The CNPI, which was a victory of the indigenous movement, was inaugurated on April 19, 2007 by the Ministry of Justice. The Committee includes 20 leaders from all regions of the Country, 10 of whom with the right to vote and speak and 10 with the right to speak only.

It also includes 13 representatives of federal ministries engaged in actions for indigenous peoples and two indigenous entities, Cimi and the Indigenous Work Center. The committee was a claim of the movement, a means for it to take part in decisions on lines and priorities for the indigenous policy in Brazil.

Cimi – www.cimi.org.br

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