By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter
BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – The Supremo Tribunal Federal (Supreme Court, STF) on Monday declared that work could resume on the controversial Belo Monte dam, overturning a lower court’s decision to suspend construction earlier this month.
The Regional Federal Court ruled two weeks ago that there had been insufficient consultation with indigenous groups likely to be affected by the huge hydroelectric project in the state of Pará in the Amazon and that Congress’ 2005 approval of the project had therefore been unconstitutional.
But the Supreme Court said Monday that construction should restart to prevent damage to “property, the administrative order, the economic order and the Brazilian energy policy.”
However, Chief Justice Britto did not rule on whether or not there had been enough consultation with indigenous communities, and said that the case would be referred to the Attorney General’s Office, Epoca Negocios reported.
“This is a failure of the judiciary to stand up to entrenched interests and the power of a politically motivated executive branch that wants the Belo Monte Dam to move forward at all costs,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.
Since 2005, environmental groups have leveled heavy criticism at the Belo Monte dam which, once built, will be the third largest of its kind. Campaigners say that it will displace as many as 20,000 indigenous people and damage the environment, as it will flood a vast area of rainforest.
The government has argued that the dam is necessary to cater to the needs of a growing middle class and increased industrial production. Norte Energia, the consortium building the dam, said in a statement that work had resumed early Tuesday.
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