Brazilian judge halts illegal and controversial Amazon dam

Widespread protests have made the Belo Monte dam notorious.
Widespread protests have made the Belo Monte dam notorious.
© Atossa Soltani/Amazon Watch

A Brazilian judge has ordered work to be suspended on a highly controversial dam in the Amazon, describing the project’s failure to properly consult the indigenous population affected as ‘illegal’.

Following his verdict, the judge said, ‘only in a dictatorial regime does a government approve a project before holding consultations.’

The Belo Monte dam threatens to devastate large areas of forest and harm fish stocks upon which thousands of indigenous people depend for their survival.

No consent was ever given by the local population and widespread protests have made the dam notorious.

Once completed, the 11,000-megawatt dam, in Brazil’s Para state, would be the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

In his ruling, the judge acknowledged the company’s failure to follow an international law, ratified by Brazil, which demands consultations of tribal and indigenous people, before work can commence.

Norte Energia faces a daily fine of almost $250,000 if it fails to comply with the ruling.

It is likely the company will appeal.