The proposed Belo Monte dam in the state of Para received a 2-1 vote on Wednesday in favor of the project, despite Federal prosecutors’ attempts to delay construction until indigenous communities could be consulted.
The dam will sit along the Xingu River, producing over 11,000 megawatts at an estimated cost of $11 billion. It will be the third largest in the world. Officials say that the clean and renewable energy from the project will be essential to growth in South America over the next few decades.
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In a statement released by the Federal prosecutors attempting to block the dam’s construction, concerns about the project’s environmental and communal impact were highlighted. "All the studies made arrive at the same conclusion: the dam will provoke drastic changes in the food chain and livelihood of the indigenous communities.” They also claim that up to 40,000 people would be displaced by the project.
The backlash against the dam drew some notable celebrities, including Sting and director James Cameron, who likened the project and the plight of the indigenous communities to the plot of his latest film ‘Avatar.’ After the court ruling, however, construction on the dam will continue as scheduled, unless prosecutors follow through on a promise to appeal to the Supreme Court.