BRASILIA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A Brazilian judge has suspended plans for construction of the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the Amazon rain forest, citing environmental concerns, a federal court said on Friday.
Belo Monte, which would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam, has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad over its impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the region. [ID:nN20131326]
Federal judge Ronaldo Desterro in the northern Para state said environmental requirements to build the dam had not been met. Those measures include contingency plans to assure transportation along rivers, where the dam is expected to reduce the water level sharply.
The court also prohibited the national development bank, BNDES, from financing the project.
If upheld, the ruling could spell a serious setback to President Dilma Rousseff’s plans for large investment in infrastructure projects.
Public works projects in Brazil often face legal challenges, but many court injunctions are overturned quickly.
The auction that granted the building rights to Belo Monte in April 2010 was twice suspended due to an injunction. [ID:nN20597433]
The Norte Energia consortium building the dam is led by Brazilian state-controlled power utility Eletrobras (ELET6.SA).
The consortium said it would not comment on the decision because it had not yet been officially notified.
Earlier this month, France’s Alstom (ALSO.PA) announced it won a 500 million euro contract to supply Norte Energia with power equipment.
The auction that granted the building rights to Belo Monte in April 2010 was twice suspended due to an injunction. [ID:nN20597433] (Reporting by Leo Goy; Writing by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Peter Cooney)