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

Belo Monte dam building_credit_Valter Campanato_

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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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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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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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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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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