Hydropower project suspended in Brazil

A federal judge in Brazil on March 30 suspended the construction license of the Teles Pires hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian Amazon, citing violations of the rights of the Kayabi, Apiaká and Mundurucu indigenous peoples.

Célia Regina Ody Bernardes, a federal judge in the state of Mato Grosso, ordered the immediate suspension of all activities in dam construction, "especially explosions of boulders in the region of Sete Quedas (Seven Waterfalls)," cited as an area considered sacred for the Kayabi, Mundurucu and Apiaká peoples, according to a press release.

With an estimated installed capacity of 1,820 MW, the dam has been under construction since August 2011 on the Teles Pires River, a major tributary of the Tapajós River in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. The dam is one of six large hydro-projects planned for the Teles Pires River, bordering the states of Mato Grosso and Pará.

In her decision, according to InternationalRivers.com, Judge Bernardes concluded that prior to greenlighting dam construction, the federal environmental agency IBAMA failed to consult with affected indigenous communities, despite serious threats to their "socioeconomic and cultural well-being," constituting a violation of the Brazilian Constitution and ILO Convention 169, which Brazil signed in 2004.

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