Indigenous Kataprore Xikrin, 32, stands in front of a poster highlighting nine typical fish of the region. He points to the fish that he hasn't seen since the construction of the Belo Monte Dam—the pacu-branco, piranha and three others that were species of the Bacajá River, a tributary of the Xingu River.
"The water is very hot, leaks, and goes away. It's the impact of Belo Monte," says Kataprore, 32, from Mrotidjam village, located a few tens of kilometers from the mouth of Bacajá. "In front of the village there was a lot of fish, now you don't see any."
Kataprore's assessment is backed by expert studies that predict a devastating environmental impact around the Xikrin territory and other territories because of the reduced water flow and the end of the natural flood and drought characteristic of the Amazon rivers. This region, a 100-kilometer stretch of the river known as the Volta Grande do Xingu, is home to endemic species such as the Zebra pleco as well as indigenous and riverine communities that depend on fishing and boating for survival.
Based on this analysis, the MPF (Federal Public Prosecution Service) recommended to Ibama the suspension and revision of the current environmental license. In practice, this would mean that the Belo Monte dam, built at the cost of about R $ 30 billion, will not be able to operate at its maximum power.
"After extensive investigation, the MPF is convinced that Belo Monte was built without prior assessment of the amount of water that could be diverted from the Xingu River and that the water rigor that is intended to be imposed will make life in the region unfeasible with one of the main impacts. Amazon," said Thais Santi, one of 18 prosecutors who subscribe to the document.
"In this context, the recommendation indicates the measures that should be taken for the environmental viability of the plant."
The MPF filed the document on Friday (30). Ibama now has 20 days to respond to the MPF. If the recommendation is not accepted, the Prosecutor's Office will file a lawsuit.
Sought, the federal environmental agency did not comment on the request.
The construction of the dam will be completed by the end of the year. In July, Belo Monte inaugurated the 14th turbine, out of 24. It now has 9,400 megawatts of installed power, surpassing Tucuruí to become the largest 100% Brazilian dam. Itaipu was built in partnership with Paraguay.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon