The Brazilian government has approved a controversial $17 billion dam project at Belo Monte in the Amazonian rainforest, a massive project that would become the third-largest hydroelectric facility in the world but displace thousands of people.
Government officials say the 11,000-megawatt plant, which would be capable of powering 23 million homes, is a critical step toward providing energy for the nation’s growing population.
But indigenous communities and conservationists have protested the proposed dam for decades, citing major environmental and social consequences.
The 3.75-mile-long dam (six kilometers) would displace 30,000 people who live near the area’s rivers, partially dry up a 62-mile stretch of the Xingu River, and flood a 193-square-mile area (500-square-kilometers).
The first stage of the project would include the clearing of 588 acres of forest. The project is expected to begin producing electricity by 2015.