15 AUG 2012
A Brazilian judge has ordered a suspension of the controversial Belo Monte dam project, saying that local indigenous people who will be affected by the massive hydroelectric project were not sufficiently consulted during the environmental assessment process. In a ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Souza Prudente of the Federal Tribunal of Brazil’s Amazon region found that no consultations were held with local communities before Congress approved what would be the world’s third-largest dam project. The $16 billion project, which is expected to produce 11,000 megawatts of energy, would flood 260 square miles of rainforest in Brazil’s Para state and displace more than 20,000 people who depend on free-flowing rivers for their livelihoods. “The Brazilian Congress must take into account the decisions taken by the indigenous communities,” Prudente wrote. “Legislators can only give the go-ahead if the indigenous communities agree with the project.” The developer of the project, Norte Energia, will be fined $250,000 per day if construction on the project continues. The company says it will appeal the decision to a higher court.