17 Apr 2010

Judge allows bids for building massive dam

7:58 pm on 17 April 2010

A court in Brazil has overturned a ruling that could have delayed the building of a massive dam on a tributary of the Amazon River.

A judge ruled on Friday that bidding can go ahead next week for contracts to build the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river. It would be the third largest dam in the world.

The dam is opposed by indigenous groups and environmentalists who say thousands of indigenous people will be displaced and a sensitive ecosystem damaged.

The government says that it is crucial for economic development, and that the contractor will have to pay $1 billion to protect the environment.

It also says the scheme has been modified to take account of fears that it would threaten the way of life of the indigenous peoples who live in the area.

Earlier project abandoned

The Xingu river is a tributary of the Amazon in the northern state of Para. The BBC reports an earlier project was abandoned in the 1990s amid widespread protests.

When completed, Belo Monte will be the third largest hydro-electric dam in the world, after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu, which is jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay. It is expected to provide electricity to 23 million houses.