The Brazilian government has issued the full installation license allowing the Belo Monte Dam Complex to break ground on the Amazon's Xingu River despite egregious disregard for human rights and environmental legislation, the unwavering protests of civil society, condemnations by its Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) and the request for precautionary measures by the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The license was granted by Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA despite overwhelming evidence that the dam-building consortium Norte Energia (NESA) has failed to comply with dozens of social and environmental conditions required for an installation license.
The risky $17 billion Belo Monte Dam Complex will divert nearly the entire flow of the Xingu River along a 62-mile stretch. Its reservoirs will flood more than 120,000 acres of rainforest and local settlements, displace more than 40,000 people and generate vast quantities of methane – a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The installation license will allow for NESA to open access roads, initiate forest clearing at dam construction sites encompassing some 2,118 acres, and begin construction on the complex immediately. It also instigates publically subsidized funding from Brazil's National Development Bank (BNDES) to finance 80 percent of the project's spiralling costs.
The bank has come under increasing scrutiny from the Public Prosecutor's office and civil society due to alarming evidence that approval is based on political grounds, often downplaying problems of economic viability and compliance with social and environmental safeguards.