Ibama suspends licensing of the hydroelectric plant São Luiz do Tapajós

Ibama suspended on April 19th the licensing of the hydro-power project of São Luiz do Tapajós, in the state of Pará, one of the largest hydro-project planned to be built in the Amazon region, its auction was announced to occur end of this year.

The decision of the environmental federal organ, IBAMA happened in the same day that Funai published the approval of the studies for the indigenous land demarcation of Sawré Maybu, of the Munduruku people. The dam would flood part of the indigenous territory and cause the removal of the indigenous people, which is forbidden by law.

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This measure taken by Ibama, regards also to the critics affirmed by Funai on September 2014, which points out to the irreversible impacts to the indigenous people.

Another serious point is that the Environmental Impact Studies (EIA) held by the hydro-power project did not consider the impact regarding the indigenous population. The study on the indigenous component was delivered after the EIA was completed, as an "attachment" without any field research at the indigenous areas.

 

Community of Pimental, Tapajós

The decision does not mean the cancellation of the licensing process, but certainly makes it more difficult. "This is a very great achievement for all those affected here at Tapajos, which have been fighting to prevent the construction of the dam, which does not meet the interests of the people, but only of large companies that want to plunder the Amazon," said Frede Vieira, coordinator of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) in the region.

Hydroelectric São Luiz was planed to be built in the Tapajós River, with a capacity of 8.040 MW and firm energy of about 4000 MW. The reservoir would occupy an area of ​​729 km². At least 40 other dams are planned for the basin, considered the "last frontier" of the hydroelectric expansion in the Amazon. Feasibility studies are coordinated by a so-called consortium "Study Group Tapajós", which brings together state companies Eletrobras Eletronorte, Cemig and Copel, the construction company Camargo Corrêa, and the transnationals EDF, GDF SUEZ, Endesa Brazil and Neoenergia (Iberdrola).

People are already affected

Although the project is still in the licensing phase, the project impacts are already felt in the threatened communities, who see their way of life change radically due to the news of the construction of the dam and installation of research workers in the region. This is pointed out by the women of Pimental community:

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Due to the news that the dam was going to be build people get afraid in investing in their agricultural production and to lose everything with the dam. Some people already start selling their land. I do not want to leave. When I arrived here there were only few houses on the first street, living the fishers, some still cut syringe."(Josefina Maria das Graças Oliveira, retired, a resident for 50 years of Pimental community threatened by the hydroelectric complex of Tapajós).

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"Some men rented a home here in the community to work for the firms [companies hired by Eletrobras for the research of the dam]. Some girls get involved with these men, one of them got pregnant, already had a child, and the man went away, others end up going away with them. We are organizing, many who were in favor of the dam are now seeing that the dam will not bring exactly the things as its says, we are seeing we have to unite, that alone we will not achieve much. "(Joilma Joaquina Damasceno de Oliveira, coordinator of the community Association of Fishermen and Pimental Residents, community threatened by hydroelectric complex of Tapajós)

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We get more worried because we as woman have children ... Sometimes we want to make an improvement in the house and we get to think if we do that or not. Here's little work, but it has the basics. I will not say that here we live 100% good, but we definitely do not want the dam to come and take everything down"(Erlani Azevedo Paiva, housewife, resident of Pimental community threatened by hydroelectric complex of Tapajós)

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“I'm afraid to have to live in the city and not to acustom to it. In the city the weather is a lot hotter, there is a lot of traffic and I'm afraid of that. Here, I'm in a calm place, but if the dam comes I will be obliged to live in the city. I'm daughter of the river, I cannot live without eating fish, it's our habit. There are people that think that our life is to much suffering, but we like living here, this calm we have here is everything. (Tereza Lobo Pereira, small farmer, resident of the community of Pimental, threatened at the hydro-complex of Tapajós).