• Belo Monte

The Belo Monte Dam Complex

The Belo Monte Dam Complex will bring development to the region of Altamira (in the Brazilian state of Pará) and neighbouring municipalities and better life conditions for 4.500 families who live in stilt houses. The region will also receive an annual financial compensation of R$ 88 million.

The Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam Complex was planned to generate peak energy of around 11 thousand MW; and an average, firm energy of around 4 thousand MW. This is the possible engineering arrangement that will allow Belo Monte to generate energy constantly, at a low social and environmental impact and with the smallest flooded area possible – that is, a 516 square kilometres reservoir. Belo Monte is a “water trickle” hydroelectric plant. That is: when output is small, it generates less energy. It does not have enormous spare reservoirs such as Itaipu does, for example.

An enterprise such as the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam Complex demands that studies be carried out to warrant its feasibility. Norte Energia has spared no efforts in doing so: it revised the Xingu river’s Hydroelectric Inventory; promoted the Environmental Impact Assessment and Report (Estudo de Impacto Ambiental/EIA – Relatório de Impacto Ambiental/Rima); and carried out anthropological research on indigenous populations and an Integrated Environmental Evaluation (Avaliação Ambiental Integrada/AAI).

From 2007 to 2010 there were 12 public consultations to discuss plant construction; ten workshops with the community that lives in the enterprise area; technical forums in Belém and Xingu; visits to over 4 thousand families; four public hearings in the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais Renováveis/Ibama), involving over 6 thousand people; and 30 meetings held by the National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio/Funai) in villages, with the participation of Eletronorte employees.

Seventy percent of the energy from the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam Complex will go to the captive market and distributors. Ten percent will go to producers and 20% to the market. Industries will not receive subsidized energy.

Construction will not have any direct impact on indigenous lands, but these will suffer indirect impacts – although removal of inhabitants is not foreseen. There will be a change in output in the Volta Grande do Xingu area, but the hydrograph proposed by the Environmental Impact Assessment guarantees adequate conditions for maintaining the ways of life of the Juruna and Arara ethnicities who live in the Volta Grande do Xingu area.

As to relocation, Belo Monte is going to move hundreds of people involved in agriculture and around 2 thousand Altamira families who nowadays live under precarious conditions. Their homes, usually stilt houses, have water up to the floorboards during river flood seasons; and are surrounded by mud during the dry season. This environment is used both by children for playing and by inhabitants in general as a toilet, for there is no sanitation available. Everyone will be indemnified. Farmers will be transferred to agrovilas (organized farm settlements) and city residents will be taken to houses with urban infrastructure and sanitation, in places which will offer public facilities such as schools and leisure areas.

The impact assessments sought to find out what is basic for people’s lives and to the maintenance of their activities, and how impacts can be reduced or compensated for. The indigenous lands close to the enterprise (Paquiçamba, Arara da Volta Grande, Trincheira Bacajá and Juruna) – inhabited by around 240 people – are not going to be flooded.