Houses are permanently flooded due to Belo Monte

Phenomenon was not foreseen by Norte Energia, company responsible for the power plant, nor by any supervisory organs.

Brasil de Fato

Since Belo Monte hydroelectric plant became reality, an unexpected phenomenon is concerning the residents of the neighborhood of Independente I in the city of Altamira (PA). Wells are overflowing, backyards are permanently flooded and the water flows comes to the kitchen floor. All this in a place where the Norte Energia concessionaire, owner of the dam, has always denied the possibility of impacts.
João Pinto Filho, 74, shows the floor of the house covered by water, which mine under the floor. "I live here over 12 years and it never flooded like this. Is it already the impact of the dam? " Given the situation, he began to receive social rent of the town hall. But he can not find a home to rent in the neighborhood compatible with the benefit he is receiving for this: 600 Reais. The amount of social rent is outdated if you compare to the prices of rent in the city after the construction of Belo Monte - although speculation peak has passed and prices are beginning to fall down.

After more than a year of frequent mobilization and organization in the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) the inhabitants of Independente II managed Ibama to condition the issue the operation license (LO) of the dam to the registration and removal of families. It was proved then that the neighborhood would be permanently flooded. The drainage system, operated on a provisional basis during the winter this year (during the rainy season in the Amazon, whose summit is the month of March and April), have never worked.

In the surrounding of the neighborhood, however, there has never been a recognition that the area could be impacted. The reports issued by the Norte Energia and approved by Ibama always affirmed that place was 102 meters above sea level, therefore, above the limit established by Norte Energia for the removal of families (until 100 meters above sea level) .

The region of the lake occupied with houses before the construction of the dam, suffered a population density and became the last stronghold possible for the poorest people living in the central city. There the situation borders calamity. The water, which rose and fell before following the river flood regime, does not flows anymore. In consequence water pollution is aggravated by the lack of basic public services such as garbage collection, sewage system and water supply. Stilts are the only possible paths between a house and another. The stench is a constant annoyance. It is impossible to stop the breeding of mosquitoes. Last year, a three year old drowned when falling of the boards at a point where the depth reaches nearly three meters.

João never imagined he could suffer some consequence with the dam. His house is made out of brick, near the area of ​​the "pond" of Independente I, where the streets are pavemented part by residents and part by the city hall. Now, the water is flooding many homes like his. You can see several houses closed around the "pond" area. In more severe cases, families left and went to live rent elsewhere, others made landfills.

In another neighborhood street, Adriana Silva Ferreira shows her yard completely covered by water. No more strength to get the house since. She lost her corn and cassava plantation. "This turned into one big pond," she complains.

It's common to hear from older residents that there were several springs where people used to fish. With the the landfills made by the city to make place for avenues, the area was cut off from the river. Although the landfills have been made years ago, only now, after the Belo Monte's dam reservoir filling, the situation has reached this point.

Belo Monte already generates power since mid-April and was officially inaugurated on May 5. President Dilma Rousseff attended the ceremony, along with politicians, local authorities, social movements in the region and workers of the work, which provided support to her government. "We know that this plant has been the object of controversy, much more by ignorance than by the fact that it is a plant with problems. People are unaware of what was Belo Monte, "said the president. After filling of the lake, the impression is that not even Norte Energia knows Belo Monte.