Today the major problems of building a hydroelectric system are: the displacement of thousands of people and their rural economic activities; the immense damage to the flora and fauna, which in some cases can be unique; and the impacts on the environment and water systems, as well as other socio-cultural issues.
In the case of the Belo Monte dam, it is estimated that around 120,000 people will be affected directly and indirectly by the work. Not only will most of these people be displaced, but also several Indian tribes will be affected due to the impact of the low tide on the water barrier. For them, the dam will result in a scarcity of water and food, such as a potential extinction of fish species that depend on the river Bacajá for procreation.
The issue will also impact future generations as stated by the Indians: “We do not want Belo Monte. Bacajá is a small river. If you build Belo Monte, what will our children and grandchildren eat? Even to drink water we will have to get it from another river. I want the river forever, “said one Indian of the Xikrin tribe to the prosecutor Felicio Pontes Jr.
There is also the belief that the natural cycle of this river will lead this dam to be far less effective than some may realize. Master of Engineering, Pedro Neto Bara, and Claudio Maretti, coordinator of the infrastructure strategy and leader of the Living Amazon Initiative WWF, explain “Although being torrential where the maximum sewage in a year-cycle (October to September) can reach almost 30.000 m³, that is, 12 Olympic swimming pools per second; in a dry year, this torrential can be reduced by 60%. Even in the same year-cycle the variations are enormous, on average from 20 to 1, as in less than 5% of water in dry periods. With a hydrological behavior so unstable, the third dam in the world would generate only 40% of its potential. Anyway, the scarcer of water passing through the original course, less is left over to generate power. ”
This point usually creates misunderstanding and debates about the real intent of the project. Does this project aim to develop the Brazilian growth for the whole population, or is it just a development project to support the hydroelectric power plants and their accomplices? If people are talking more and more about alternative energy, then what is the purpose of investing in such a compromising project such as this?
We can’t go against development, but that doesn’t mean that we have to submit to blind and corrupt traditionalism. There are other ways to create energy; something so essential for us today. Developed countries are already investing in these alternatives. Why not follow these examples and show the world that we, Brazilians, are also capable?
The key to change the world is in our hands. If the dam ends up being built, the home of thousands of families, flora and fauna species will be, literally, submerged. These will be the consequences to our choices.
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