Brazil allows environmental review of 11,182-Belo Monte

A federal judge in Para State has dismissed a lawsuit by federal prosecutors and the indigenous population authority that sought to prevent environmental studies for construction of the 11,182-MW Belo Monte hydroelectric project.

The court issued a statement, carried by Business News Americas, saying Judge Herculano Nacif allowed utility Centrais Eletricas do Norte do Brasil S.A. (Eletronorte) to carry out environmental impact studies on Belo Monte on the Xingu River in Para. (HNN 12/15/06) He also freed environmental agency Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) to review the studies and issue licenses for the project.

Prosecutors and Funai, the indigenous population authority, argued that Eletronorte could not conduct environmental studies without first consulting indigenous populations around the site.

Nacif rejected that argument, agreeing instead with Eletronorte and Ibama that the study process itself, which was authorized by Congress in 2005, would involve consultations with the indigenous groups.

Belo Monte was one of more than 20 major projects that newly re-elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva last year said he would attempt to move through environmental and legal suspensions. (HNN 11/7/06) Earlier last year, protesters forced temporary closure of the banks in Altamira in a demonstration of support for development of Belo Monte.

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