Dardanelos Dam in Amazonia, Brazil

Indigenous groups in Mato Grosso took over a hydroelectric dam in 2010 that polluted vital fishing grounds and destroyed sacred burial grounds, demanding compensation and that no more dams be built without prior consent.


The Dardanelos Hydropower Plant is one of a series of hydro projects on the Aripuanã that includes the Juína, Faxinal I, and Faxinal II dams. The project commenced in 2007 in the midst of lengthy legal and political battles that had started two years before. Before construction began, government authorities ensured that the dam would only indirectly affect indigenous territories in the region as it would be located outside indigenous land. However, because of irregularities and omissions in the environmental impact assessment (EIA), the state’s public prosecutor initiated legal action against a number of companies involved in the dam’s construction in 2005, demanding the cancellation of the EIA and suspending the project tender [8]. Accusations included the omission of an impact assessment for the territory outside the municipality where the dam would be built and for the transmission lines. Despite claims that indigenous communities would not be affected, the construction process in fact directly threatened indigenous sacred and ancestral sites. In 2010 the Aguas da Pedra construction company blew up an indigenous cemetery. In response, on 25 July, 2010, an indigenous group of around 300 Brazilian Indians[1] (some other media reports say 400[2], from eleven tribes, including about 50 Enawene Nawe Indians), equipped with homemade weapons like knives, bows and arrows, took over the Dardanelos hydroelectric dam, which they state has polluted vital fishing grounds apart from destroying sacred burial ground. They were demanding reparations for the damage done and that no more dams are built in the region without their prior consent. Despite wearing war paint and bows and arrows, the occupation was said to be non-violent and no injuries have been reported.

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Basic Data
NameDardanelos Dam in Amazonia, Brazil
ProvinceState of Mato Grosso
SiteAripuanã-Mato Grosso, MT
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsCapacity: 256 MW

Flooded Area: 2 Km2

Cost: R$ 760.0 million

Operational Status: Under Construction

Companies Involved: Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S/A (Eletrobrás) / Centrais Elétricas do Norte do Brasil S/A (Eletronorte) / Companhia Hidro Elétrica do São Francisco (Chesf) / Energética Águas da Pedra S/A / Neoenergia Investimentos S/A (Neoinvest) / Odebrecht (Grupo Norberto Odebrecht)

Funders Involved: Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)

Investment Plans: Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, Brasil

//More info about the Companies:

The company responsible for the plant - Energética Águas da Pedra S/A - is made up of Neoenergia (51%), Eletronorte (24.5%) and Chesf (24.5%).

Neoenergia Investmentos S/A (Neoinvest) is a company controlled by pension funds linked to the Brazilian state-owned Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil) and the Welfare Fund for the Banco do Brasil Staff (Previ), and also by the Spanish group Iberdrola.

Eletronorte and Chesf are subsidiaries of the federal public company Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S/A (Eletrobrás).

BNDES disbursed R$ 485,090,000.00 to Energética Águas da Pedra S/A.
Project Area (in hectares)200
Level of Investment (in USD)241,430,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population250,000
Start Date25/07/2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesEnergética Águas da Pedra S/A from Brazil
Centrais Elétricas do Norte do Brasil S/A (Eletronorte) from Brazil
Neoenergia Investimentos S/A (Neoinvest) (Neoinvest) from Brazil
Odebrecht Ambiental from Brazil
Companhia Hidro Elétrica do São Francisco (Chesf) (Chesf) from Brazil
Relevant government actors-FUNAI - National Indian Foundation (Brazil)

-Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional, IPHAN
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters-Survival International
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Cinta-Larga and Arara indigenous groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationThreats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Development of AlternativesAlternatives in the territories include the promotion of the area for ecotourism, in particular for visiting the Salto de Dardanelos, natural waterfalls very close to the hydro plant.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The dam was built and is in operation now anyway, the indigenous groups were compensated by a series of social projects, but they still lost a sacred ancient burial ground and archeological site.
Sources and Materials

Lees, Alexander C., et al. "Hydropower and the future of Amazonian biodiversity." Biodiversity and conservation 25.3 (2016): 451-466.
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[8] Riethof, Marieke. "The international human rights discourse as a strategic focus in socio-environmental conflicts: the case of hydro-electric dams in Brazil." The International Journal of Human Rights 21.4 (2017): 482-499.
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Dardanelos Dam
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[3] Indians hold construction workers hostage at Amazon dam site
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[4] Brazilian Indians protesting construction of Amazon dam release hostages
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[5] Indigenous Tribes Resist Dam Construction By Taking Workers Hostage
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[1] Indigenous tribes occupy dam in Brazil, demand reparations
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[2] Brazilian Indians take hostages at Amazon dam site
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Observatorio Socio-ambiental de Barragens
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[7] O Estadao. Índios impedem hidrelétrica de funcionar. Barragem está pronta, mas tribos vizinhas promovem invasões e cobram compensação. Edna Simão, de O Estado de S. Paulo,15 Julho 2011.

Edna Simão, de O Estado de S. Paulo,

15 Julho 2011
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Media Links

[6] Indios brasileros Cinta-Larga toman rehenes para evitar grandes represas. 26 Julio 2010. Escrito por El polvorín.

Indios intercambian a obreros por cinco ingenieros
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Other Documents

Dardanelos Dam in construction
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Indigenous people in resistance
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Technique details of Dardanelos Dam
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Meta Information
ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA
Last update31/07/2017