Altamira inhabitants who’ve already suffered the impacts of Belo Monte dam’s construction, are now facing increased forest fires in the area that ‘Norte Energia’ (energy company) plans to illegaly clear in anticipation of the approval of their operational license.
The middle Xingu river region is one of the world’s richest habitats with incredible biodiversity. Most botanists and entomologists are firm in their believe that thousands of plant, insect, and possibly animal species that have yet to be discovered exist here. The region is home to atleast nine different indigenous populations, some of which have yet to make contact with the outside world.
On the river’s islands the wildlife is fleeing the clear-cutting and burning. Many die crossing the river or are consumed the forest fires’ flames. Fisherman and boaters frequently talk of the burned carcases they find in the river. Local snake, alligator, sloth, and monkey populations, are at risk.
The Belo Monte hydroelectric project is one of the world’s largest construction sites, and one of 153 hydroelectric projects planned for the Amazon. More than eight billion dollars have already been spent on the Belo Monte project. 80% of this funding has come from the National Bank of Economic Development (BNDS).
The local population most affected by the dam’s construction are fishing communities and the indigenous communities that dot the river bank. As a result the Xingu river is an important resource both economically and culturally for the region, and the continued burning and destruction of habitat will eventually destroy the river for these communities.
In theory, Norte Energia and its subcontractors along with the federal government are responsible both for the economic compensation of affected local communities and the mitigation of the project’s environmental impacts. However during this report’s production, none of the legally responsible entities were willing to comment on their compensation or mitigation efforts. Unfortunately it seems there is no one in power holding Norte Energia and other stakeholders accountable for the effects of the Belo Monte project.
What the real cost of Belo Monte is or will be, no one really knows!