Brazil court orders resumption of work on Amazon dam

October 30, 2013
Munduruku indigenous people rally in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on June 6, 2013, calling for a law under which they would have to be consulted before any official decision affecting them with respect to the Belo Monte dam

A Brazilian court on Wednesday ordered work to resume on a dam in the Amazon, reversing a ruling that had ordered a stoppage over environmental concerns, the project consortium said.

A Norte Energia statement said the president of the Federal Court in Brasilia lifted the suspension on the Belo Monte dam.

Another judge had ordered the consortium to halt the Friday, saying it had not met its environmental commitments.

Just as the 20,000 workers were preparing to stop work at the dam, located in the northern state of Para, Judge Mario Cesar Ribeiro said only a special court could rule on a suspension, according to a spokesman.

Federal Court Judge Antonio Souza had suspended the project's environmental license as well work at the dam last week after state prosecutors charged that Norte Energia had failed to comply with environmental commitments.

But Norte Energia insisted that it was "rigorously complying with its obligations and commitments."

Indigenous groups fear the dam across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, will harm their way of life. Environmentalists have warned of deforestation, and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.

Belo Monte, a $13 billion project aiming to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity, is expected to flood a 500-square-kilometer (300-square-mile) area, displacing 16,000 people, according to the government.

It would be the third-biggest in the world, after China's Three Gorges and Brazil's Itaipu in the south.

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