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Judge’s ruling halts construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam

Photo by BBC News

The Belo Monte Hydroelectric dam has been causing controversy in Brazil since the initial plan inception in the 1990’s. The Brazilian government believes the dam to be critical for economic development. The dam would be built on the Xingu River in the Eastern Amazon. In 2010, federal judges halted bidding on the construction of the dam for the third time. The injunction was overturned, plans progressed and construction began.

Last week, a federal judge again ordered work to be halted on the dam, as the project standards of the approving environmental agency were not upheld. The judge also stopped the release of project funding from the national development bank.

“All work on the site must be halted,” the judge said, according this report by Globo News. Among other environmental objections, the judge said the project failed to provide a sufficient contingency plan to ensure transportation along sections of river where water levels are expected to drop drastically.

The project has attracted worldwide attention. AAA’s Committee on Human Rights released letters to Brazilian officials in August of 2010 requesting the dam project to cease, as it would displace more than twenty-four indigenous tribes that have “original” status in the Brazilian national constitution. Such status was created to ensure protection of encroachment and harm. More recently the music artist, Sting and the director of the movie “Avatar”, James Cameron, have joined environmentalists in protest of the project.

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