TheBelo Monte Dam is one of the most controversial projects in the world. The $17 billion hydro-electric dam will, when constructed, generate enough energy for over 23 million homes. However, its creation will see the flooding of huge portions of the Amazon basin, displacing indigenous tribes and putting 500 sq km of rainforest underwater. The project has been met with fierce resistance over the past few years, but this week Brazil’s environmental agency backed its construction, crushing the hopes of  indigenous groups and environmentalists.

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Infographic by Random Fallen Blossom

The agency,Ibama, said the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River had been subjected to “robust analysis” of its impact on the environment. The government concucred saying that the dam was vital to meet the country’s ever-growing energy needs. Ibama also issued the penultimate licence that the Norte Energia consortium, the group behind the project, needs to build the dam.

Construction work is expected to begin in January and will see the displacement of tens of thousands of local tribes people. It is expected that the dam’s construction will intensify clashes between the indigenous rainforest communities and the government.

The 11,000-megawatt dam will be the third biggest in the world after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu. Despite being planned 30 years ago, it has taken a long time to get the green light. Critics of the 6km (3.7-mile) dam believe as well as making 50,000 people homeless, 500 sq km (190 sq miles) of land will be flooded.

+ The Belo Monte Dam

via BBC News