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Profit and chaos on the Madeira River dams

The Santo Antonio hydroelectric power plant, being built on the Madeira River in Rondônia, already has a date for the start of the commercial operation: December 15. While for the Santo Antônio Energia consortium the profit on the sale of energy is anticipated [the start was projected for next year], those affected by the dam suffer from the problems left by the trail of companies in more than three years of construction, during which companies implemented patterns of violations equal or worse by those described by the Council of Defense of Human Rights.

And not satisfied with the 50 billion reais profit from the sale of energy in 30 years (about 200 thousand reais per hour), the consortium now wants to increase the depth of the reservoir, in order to generate more power. The quota would rise from 70.5 meters to 71.3 meters, according to analysis of Aneel (National Agency of Eletrical Energy), which can generate 200 MW more power, but also increases the number of poeple affected. This request has generated a dispute between the dam construction consortium Santo Antonio and the owner of UHE Jirau. The latter has managed to release last year from Aneel to install more six turbines.

Fights between companies aside, what concerns the coordination of MAB is the neglect of the population. “The lack of a national policy that guarantees minimum rights to the affected families gives total freedom to construction companies to adopt a discriminatory policy, biased, unfair and of authoritarian treatment,” say the Movement.

The lack of a serious policy and criteria for compensation, coupled with disregard to the local reality and the historical experience of populations affected is one of the leading practices of construction companies of dams in Rondônia. Consortia have imposed a model of resettlement that already had many problems. Where once families could survive in their areas of lands, now they received small plots ranging from 400 sqm to 10 hectares of land, away from rivers and with poor conditions. The only big resettlement Santa Rita has 50 hectares of which 40 hectares is reserve, but the company has not bought the area. It is noteworthy that for this region the minimum module proposed by INCRA is 60 hectares.

In addition, a recent study by the construction consortium on the monitoring of the population affected by the Santo Antônio shows that the living conditions have worsened: 74% of the population found that the situation in relation to employment and income went down. With regard to fisheries, the same survey found that for 88% of those affected, the situation worsened.

The reality of affected families is reflected in the city of Porto Velho by increased violence. The report released by the Platform DhESCA showed several consequences, including that “between 2008 and 2010, the number of murders increased by 44% and the number of children and adolescents victims of sexual abuse or exploitation rose 18%. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of rapes increased by 208%. “

For the coordination of MAB, the responsibles for the current situation are the companies that own power plants, which in the name of profit, encroach on the Amazon river. If the problems suffered by those affected by the Santo Antônio are huge, it’s no different to those affected by the UHE Jirau. In the old district of Paraná Mutum lived more than 400 families, formed mainly by fishermen, coastal, gatherers and farmers. The families were removed and only 125 of them were transferred to an urban area, called New Mutum Paraná. What the consortium called a collective urban resettlement is in reality a city with many problems, where the prefabricated houses are of poor quality and not in accordance with the will of the residents.