IBAMA President resigns over pressure from Belo Monte Complex supporters

Abelardo Bayma Azevedo, the President of IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, tendered his resignation last week after heavy pressure was placed on him to grant a full installation license for the Belo Monte Complex. The Belo Monte Complex is intended to be bigger than the Panama Canal and will dam the Amazon, flooding over 400’000 acres of farmland and rainforest in the process.

A political war between Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Ministry of the Environment is claiming many victims; but the real loser is the Amazon and the surrounding environment.

Who’s afraid of the BIG (bad) WOLF?

Azevedo resigns over Belo Monte Complex

Azevedo is the latest in a string of players to be forced out of their position by the heavily influential Minister of Energy, Edison Lobão (“big wolf” in Portuguese), but did he jump or was he pushed?  Lobão was quick to take the place of former Minister Márcio Zimmerman at the side of recently elected President Dilma Rousseff, and has developed quite an appetite for environmentalists and Amazonian sympathisers who oppose his big plans.

A report in O Globo said, “in meetings with Eletronorte directors, Abelardo refused to grant the definitive license [for Belo Monte]. He argued that IBAMA could not grant the license because the project was still full of pending environmental problems.”

According to another source, Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira “promised” Lobão that Bayma Azevedo would grant the installation license during the month of February 2011, despite such environmental problems.

IBAMA, are however fighting off the bid by Norte Energia to go ahead with building the Belo Monte Complex as it has so far failed to meet 40 conditions required by the environmental agency. Eletrobrás, of which Eletronorte is a subsidiary, holds a 49.98% stake in Belo Monte consortium Norte Energia, S.A, and since 2010 has sought a “partial” installation license to begin construction before the “hydrological window” closes on the Xingu River.

[adsense]Funding for the mega-dam has been granted courtesy of a loan from the World Bank, and that raises questions over who is truly behind the installation and what they hope to achieve by building it, given that questionable figures such as Paul Wolfowitz are involved.

The real losers in all of this are the wildlife in both the Amazon River and surrounding rainforests, as well as the indigenous folk who rely on the river as a source of income and food.

Farmers will also suffer due to the proposed flooding needed to displace the water for construction and food will have to be supplied from elsewhere as a result.

The one saving grace for now is that small window of opportnity for building the dam which will soon be closed, quite possibly before permission is given to start construction of the Belo Monte Complex.

Environmental risks associated with the mega-dam include global warming due to loss of rainforests, water pollution from chemicals within the dam and its construct, and endangerment of fish stocks and other wildlife species.

Please share your thoughts on this potential environmental disaster by leaving a comment.

Read about other environmental issues like uranium in drinking water, hexavalent chromium found in water supplies, mass animal deaths, fracking causing water pollution, and the government’s admission that fluoride is a serious health risk.

A petition is in place now calling on President Dilma Rousseff to halt the contruction. You can find more information by visiting http://www.avaaz.org/en/amazon_under_threat?fp

Images: d24am.com, elephantjournal.com