The Associated Press November 9, 2011, 2:39PM ET

Brazil court OKs construction of dam

A Brazilian court said Wednesday that construction of one the world's largest hydroelectric dams can proceed without additional consultation with indigenous communities in the region.

Federal prosecutors had filed a motion calling for suspension of construction of the Belo Monte dam in the state of Para until indigenous groups are consulted and given access to environmental impact reports.

In a 2-1 vote, the court upheld the decree issued by Para state authorizing the dam's construction.

The federal prosecutors' office in Para said in a statement it will go to the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling.

"All the studies made arrive at the same conclusion: the dam will provoke drastic changes in the food chain and livelihood of the indigenous communities," the statement said.

When completed on the Xingu River that feeds the Amazon, the $11 billion, 11,000-megawatt dam would be the world's third largest behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu, which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

The government says the dam will provide clean, renewable energy and is essential to fuel the South American country's growing economy.

Officials say they spent years planning to protect the environment and local residents before the dam was approved

Environmentalists and indigenous groups say it would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded.

Celebrities including British rock star Sting, film director James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver have joined activists in lobbying against the dam

When Cameron participated in protests against the project in Brazil last year, he compared the anti-dam struggle by indigenous people to the plot of his film "Avatar," which depicts a natives of a planet fighting to protect their homeland from plans to extract its resources.


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