Consórcio Norte Energia lawsuit (re Belo Monte dam in Brazil)

Belo Monte dam building_credit_Valter Campanato_http://memoria.ebc.com.br/agenciabrasil/galeria/2012-04-20/belo-monte

In February 2010, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) granted a preliminary license for the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in the State of Pará in Brazil to Norte Energia, a consortium of 18 partners.  In April 2010, Norte Eneriga, led by a subsidiary of a parastatal power utility company Eletrobrás, won the tender for the Belo Monte dam construction.

In March 2011, the International Labor Organization declared that the Brazilian Government violated ILO Convention 169, because it failed to hold prior consultation with the indigenous communities affected by the hydroelectric dam project.  In 2011, several NGOs filed a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the communities affected by the dam construction.  On 1 April 2011, the Commission issued precautionary measures for Brazil citing alleged failure to consult with the indigenous communities prior to Belo Monte dam construction.

On 17 October 2011, Brasília federal district judge allowed a Public Prosecution office's lawsuit challenging the 2006 legislative decree that authorized the Belo Monte dam construction to proceed.  The lawsuit alleged that the decree violated the right of the indigenous population to prior consultation established in the ILO Convention 169 and the article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution establishing the rights of the indigenous peoples.  On 9 November 2011, the court upheld the validity of the legislative decree, ruling that prior consultations with the indigenous communities were not necessary because the dam infrastructure was not physically located on the indigenous lands.  Since 2012, the courts suspended the Belo Monte construction license several times, but all the injunctions were overturned on appeal.

On 24 November 2015, IBAMA granted Belo Monte operational license to Norte Energia despite non-compliance issues raised in IBAMA's September 2015 report.

In December 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights officially opened a case against Brazil in relation to the Belo Monte dam project.  In May 2018, NGOs submitted their final arguments before the Commission. Their report alleges that the dam construction and operation caused displacement and loss of livelihoods of the indigenous and traditional communities by limiting their access to the Xingu River as a source of food, sustenance, transportation and entertainment.  According to the report, the damages suffered by the communities are due to allegedly inadequate impact assessment and lack of oversight by the Brazilian authorities, as well as Norte Energia’s failure to comply with the conditions established by the government for the dam operation.  The Commission will determine whether the alleged human rights violations occurred and may issue recommendations.  If recommendations are unfulfilled, the case may be referred to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

 

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Article
28 February 2011

Brazilian judge blocks plans for construction of Belo Monte dam

Author: Amy Fallon, The Guardian

Plans for the construction of the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the Amazon rainforest have been suspended by a Brazilian judge over environmental concerns. The proposal to build Belo Monte…has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad because of its impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the area…[E]nvironmental requirements for the project…included contingency plans to assure transportation along rivers where the dam is expected to reduce the water level sharply. [refers to Energy, Norte Energia, Alstom]

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Article
29 September 2011

Work on huge Brazil Amazon dam halted by judge

Author: Associated Press

A Brazilian judge has suspended work on a massive hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle, saying it would harm fishing activities on the Xingu River. Brazil's government, which strongly backs the $11-billion, 11,000-megawatt project as necessary to fuel the country's growing economy, said it planned to appeal the ruling. Judge Carlos Eduardo Martins said he halted construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam because it would harm fishing by indigenous communities on the Xingu River in Para state...The Norte Energia consortium that is building the dam said it had not been informed of the ruling...But environmentalists and indigenous groups say the dam would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded.

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Article
10 November 2011

Brazil court approves building of Amazon dam

Author: Al Jazeera

A Brazilian court has said that construction of one the world's largest hydroelectric dams can proceed without additional consultation with indigenous communities in the region, despite a mass movement opposed to the project. Federal prosecutors had filed a motion calling for suspension of construction of the Belo Monte dam in the northern state of Para until indigenous groups were consulted and given access to environmental impact reports...Officials said they spent years planning to protect the environment and local residents before the dam was approved. However, environmentalists and indigenous groups said it would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded...Environmental group Amazon Watch has said that 80 per cent of the river is planned to be diverted for the dam, which would cause massive droughts and flooded forests. In order to keep the dam in operation during the dry season, upstream and tributary dams would be needed to store water, causing further displacement and environmental havoc, the group said.

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Article
28 August 2012

Work to resume on Brazil's Belo Monte dam

Author: BBC News

Work will resume on a multi-billion dollar dam project in the Amazon...[A] preliminary ruling, passed on Monday by the Supreme Court, overturns a federal court ruling earlier this month which argued that local communities should have had the right to voice their opinion on the environmental impact of the project before it was passed by Congress. The government says the dam would make Brazil more energy self-sufficient, especially in the Amazon region, which relies on fossil fuels for much of its needs. Opponents argue that it will flood a vast area of tropical forest, displacing thousands of indigenous people and damaging the environment.

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Article
11 September 2013

Indigenous rights controversies around Belo Monte consume Brazilian judicial system [Brazil]

Author: Amazon Watch, International Rivers, Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)

… Recent lawsuits by Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutors (MPF) concerning the Belo Monte dam are demanding accountability from the dam-building Norte Energia consortium, Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES), and the state environmental agency IBAMA for noncompliance with mandated mitigation measures concerning the Juruna and Xikrin Kayapó, two indigenous groups affected by the mega-project…The Federal Court of Pará State responded this week by giving Norte Energia 60 days to purchase the Juruna land and deliver health care or face daily fines of R$200,000 (US$87,000)…Antonia Melo, coordinator of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement...[said:] “There is no fresh water, no electricity, no health care, no schools and no sanitation... IBAMA must suspend construction…until these conditions are met ."...

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Article
16 June 2015

Brazil: Prosecutors claim that Belo Monte dam puts livelihood of 2,000 families at risk

Author: Associated Press in Sao Paulo/The Guardian

Belo Monte dam building_credit_Valter Campanato_http://memoria.ebc.com.br/agenciabrasil/galeria/2012-04-20/belo-monte

“Brazil's Belo Monte dam puts livelihood of 2,000 families at risk, prosecutors say-Federal prosecutors say Norte Energia, the consortium building the $11bn dam, has violated agreed-to items that are endangering locals’ means of survival”, 16 June 2015

Construction of a massive hydroelectric dam is endangering the livelihoods of at least 2,000 families in Brazil’s Amazon jungle state of Para, according to federal prosecutors who recommend that efforts to move the residents be suspended. The federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement Monday that the Norte Energia consortium that is building the $11bn Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River has violated 55 previously agreed-to items to guarantee indigenous groups, farmers and fishermen their means of survival. A report based on the prosecutors’ investigation will be sent to Norte Energia. Neither Norte Energia nor the federal government had immediate comment on the prosecutors’…The government has said Belo Monte will be a source of clean, renewable energy…[,]…fundamental for the economic development of the region and country…[and]…designed to minimize environmental damage. But environmentalists and indigenous groups say it would devastate wildlife and their livelihoods.

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Article
25 June 2015

Brazil: Munduruku indigenous leader speaks at UN Human Rights Council about violence & lack of consultation on dams

Author: Bruce Douglas, The Guardian (UK)

Munduruku UN HRs Council_credit_Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre_http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Felicio-e-Ademir-na-Onu.jpg 

“Brazilian indigenous leader to address UN council in effort to stop dam-Ademir Kaba Munduruku will argue Brazil is violating indigenous rights by failing to consult them about the hydroelectric project on the river Tapajós”, 24 June 2015

...[A]ccording to...Ademir Kaba Munduruku [,]...an indigenous leader...[who addressed]...the 29th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on...[24 June 2015],...the Brazilian government failed to consult affected communities ahead of its construction of the Belo Monte dam, and...it is repeating this failure over its plans for another dam across the river Tapajós...[T]he Munduruku people had handed the government a protocol establishing the terms of a consultation process in January, but it had yet to receive a response…[He]…accused the government of a disproportionate use of force – including a police raid…in 2012 during which the indigenous leader Adenilson Kirixi Munduruku was shot dead…“If the government does not engage in dialogue with us…, we are prepared to die to stop the building of this dam,” he said...[He]…will also hold talks with representatives of European companies who are involved in the Brazilian government’s development of the Amazon basin, including EDF, GDF Suez and Alstrom…[He]…is being accompanied by Felício Pontes,…prosecutor…who has filed numerous lawsuits over the government’s violation of human rights and environmental legislation in its development of the Amazon basin....Brazil’s...government body responsible for the consultation process...said: “The...government will guarantee the right to prior consultation with the Munduruku people, as set out in ILO Convention 169, for the realisation of the Tapajós hydroelectric project.”

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Article
30 July 2015

Brazil: Federal Attorney’s Office says it will sue Consórcio Norte Energia for allegations of ethnocide of indigenous people for resisting the Belo Monte dam construction

Author: Mario Osava, IPS/ Envolverde/Terramérica

“Indigenous People in Brazil’s Amazon – Crushed by the Belo Monte Dam?”, 16 July 2015

…Ethnocide, the new accusation leveled against the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, brings to light deeper underlying aspects of the conflicts and controversies unleashed by megaprojects in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Federal prosecutor Thais Santi announced that legal action would be taken “in the next few weeks” against Norte Energía, the company building the dam, on the argument that its initiatives to squelch indigenous resistance amount to ethnocide…Belo Monte has been the target of numerous complaints and lawsuits that sought to halt the construction process. The company has been accused of failing to live up to the measures required by the government’s environmental authority to mitigate or compensate for impacts caused by the hydropower complex on the Xingú River…The 22 lawsuits brought by the public prosecutor’s office failed to halt work on the dam. But they managed to secure compliance with several environmental requisites…In a Jun. 29 report, the non-governmental Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) said the conditions were not in place for the government to issue the final operating permit to allow Belo Monte to fill its reservoirs and begin generating electricity in early 2016. ISA…said that many of the 40 initial requisites…have not yet been fulfilled. Protection of indigenous territories is one of the conditions that have not been met, as reflected in the increase of illegal logging and poaching by outsiders, it said. Norte Energía argues that it has invested 68 million dollars to benefit the roughly 3,000 people in 34 villages in the 11 indigenous territories in the Belo Monte zone of influence…

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Article
24 September 2015

Brazil: Environmental protection agency withholds license for Belo Monte dam citing failure to mitigate impacts on affected peoples' rights

Author: Bruce Douglas, The Guardian (UK)

“Brazil threatens to withhold licence for Belo Monte dam over mitigation worries-Without an operating licence the hydroelectric plant will stand unused but projects to limit the impact on the local community remain incomplete”, 23 September 2015

Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant is facing another setback after the country’s environmental protection agency, Ibama, threatened to withhold an operating licence until the consortium which built the dam completes mitigation projects in the area to be affected. Without the operating licence, Norte Energia…is banned from flooding Belo Monte’s reservoir. Without the water in the reservoir, the turbines of the world’s third-largest hydroelectric power plant…will remain unused. Brazil’s national human rights council voted unanimously to advise Ibama…to withhold the licence over Norte Energia’s grave violations of human rights and failure to comply with the terms of its contract…Ibama said it would withhold the licence until the consortium had completed mitigation projects it had promised. Environmental campaigners welcomed the decision. “If Ibama is serious about the consortium implementing all the conditionalities of the project, we could be in for a significant delay,” said Brent Millikan,…of…International Rivers. But Norte Energia insisted that the Ibama order was not a rejection of its application but rather a call for the company to provide proof of the projects it had undertaken to compensate the local community for the impact of the dam…Ibama listed 12 areas which “threatened the issuance of the operating licence”, including Norte Energia’s failure to “conclude the relocation of the population based in the area directly affected [by the dam], especially … the residents of the islands and banks of the Xingu river”…

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Article
24 September 2015

Brazil: Intl. Rivers welcomes move & calls on firm to compensate affected people

Author: Brent Millikan, International Rivers

“Press Release | Breaking News: Brazil’s Environmental Agency Denies Operating License to Controversial Belo Monte Dam”, 23 September 2015

…[T]he Brazilian press reported that the…Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama)…[has]… temporarily denied Norte Energia’s request for an operating license for Belo Monte Dam, citing serious examples of non-compliance with legally required measures to mitigate and compensate project impacts. Without the license, Norte Energia can’t close floodgates and fill a reservoir that will flood large portions of the city of Altamira before it begins generating power. In response to Ibama’s announcement, International Rivers released the following statement…Brent Millikan: “…We have to give Ibama due credit for this move,…coming after a long history of negligence...[and]…finally acknowledging…that Norte Energia is not complying with project conditionalities and doing something about it…People’s rights have been steamrolled and livelihoods have been devastated. But the Brazilian government has invested billions…into this project,…they’re not going to pack up and go home…[W]hat can be done to minimize the damage?...Ibama needs to hold firm to this decision and…compensate the people who’ve been forcibly displaced and whose livelihoods have been devastated. The Brazilian government…needs…to protect indigenous territories,…under…pressure from illegal logging and mining…[and]…address the impending consequences for indigenous peoples, fishermen and other local populations…

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