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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
Name of conflict:Dardanelos Dam in Amazonia, Brazil
State or province:State of Mato Grosso
Location of conflict:Aripuanã-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 commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Capacity: 256 MW

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Project area:200
Level of Investment:241,430,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:250,000
Start of the conflict:25/07/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Energética 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 Finance InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Survival International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Cinta-Larga and Arara indigenous groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Threats 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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Development of alternatives:Alternatives 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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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Observatorio Socio-ambiental de Barragens
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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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[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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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[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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Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA
Last update31/07/2017
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