On the 9th November, a federal court in Brasilia ruled that construction on the Belo Monte dam could continue without the need for free, prior and informed consent from indigenous groups that will be adversely affected by the project. The court determined that consent was not required because the dam’s infrastructure would not be situated on local tribes’ land. In a two-to-one decision, deciding Judge Maria do Carmo Cardoso stated that consultations did not have to occur before the commencement of the project, and that it would not become legally binding. The judge decided that the project’s environmental impact studies would sufficiently address indigenous peoples’ concerns.
The dam, if constructed, would become the third largest in the world, flooding approximately 40,000 hectares of rainforest. With an estimated cost of $11 billion, the dam is designed to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity, representing more than 10% of Brazil’s current capacity. Legal challenges to the dam have been ongoing for decades, and opponents intend to bring the current issue before the national Supreme Court.
By Matt Little