Brazilian Judge Halts Work on Controversial Belo Monte Dam
Judge Carlos Castro Martins announced work on the Belo Monte dam in the Brazilian Amazon be halted. The controversial dam, to be the world's third-largest, has caused social upheaval in the region. Altamira, Brazil. 27th September 2011 (File Images)
It took ornamental fish to bring down the construction of what was to be the world's third-largest dam.
In a decision announced Tuesday, Brazilian Judge Carlos Castro Martins barred any work, including the Belo Monte dam, that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river.
He ruled in favor of a fisheries group which had argued that Belo Monte would affect local fish stocks and could harm indigenous families who make a living from fishing.
Judge Martins barred the Norte Energia company behind the project from "building a port, using explosives, installing dikes, building canals and any other infrastructure work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river, thereby affecting local fish stocks".
The ruling was the result of an action of Altamira's Association of Breeders and Exporters of Fish. The association said that the plant will shut down the fishery in the region, because the main fish species would become extinct.
The government says the dam is crucial to meeting growing energy needs; meanwhile, the construction has doubled Altamira's population and caused massive social upheaval, from growing violence to displacement.
The dam will dry up to 80 percent of the Xingu, and in what's left of the river, fish stocks will be severely depleted. In exchange, indigenous peoples are being promised all manner of government assistance.