The Environment minister from Brazil, Carlos Minc, announced he had granted a license for an Amazon hydroelectric dam, but attached stringent conditions to protect Indian reservations and nature preserves. Brazilian environmental groups, however, anticipated a long legal battle.
At least two environmental groups criticized the Brazilian government's approval of a project that they say fails to safeguard either Indigenous people or the environment.
The license for the Santo Antônio dam is contingent upon millions of dollars of investments in equipment for fire fighters, environmental police and sewage treatment for the state capital, Porto Velho, said Minc. The dam is one of two planned for the Madeira river in the Amazon state of Rondônia.
Brazil auctioned off the rights to build the 3,150-megawatt Santo Antônio dam to a consortium including Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht and Furnas in December. The dam is expected to cost in the range of US$ 6 billion and go online in 2012.
The environmental groups Friends of the Earth, Amazonia, and International Rivers issued a joint statement accusing Brazil's environmental protection services of "approving a mitigation plan which will do little" to lessen the dam's impacts "on the region's biodiversity, and on river bank communities, including indigenous tribes living close to the reservoir area."
"The granting of the construction license under these conditions will mean additional challenges to the project in the courts," Friends of the Earth underscored.