Last update:
2020-09-15

Teles Pires Hydroelectric Dam, Mato Grosso - Pará, Brazil

Brazil's mega-dam Teles Pires is part of a series of hydropower projects in the Tapajós basin. It was politically pushed forward despite irregularities in the environmental licensing, impacted fishery and destroyed the indigenous sacred site Karobixexé.


Description:

Teles Pires Hydroelectric Dam is located in the Tapajós basin, at the border of the states Pará and Mato Grosso and in proximity of two indigenous territories. Its construction, which was promulgated as part of the national Program for Accelerated Growth (PAC), has harmed biodiversity and fisheries, caused forest clearance, and destroyed an indigenous sacred site. This was no surprise as numerous objections concerning socio-environmental impacts and irregularities in the licensing process were previously raised, but became silenced after political and corporate pressure. The dam was opened in 2016 and has a capacity of 1,820 MW [1][2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Teles Pires Hydroelectric Dam, Mato Grosso - Pará, Brazil
Country:Brazil
State or province:Mato Grosso - Pará
Location of conflict:Paranaíta, Jacareacanga, Alta Floresta
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Deforestation
Water access rights and entitlements
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
REDD/CDM
Specific commodities:Land
Electricity
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Teles Pires Dam has a capacity of 1,820 MW – according to the operator sufficient to supply about 4.5 million people with electricity – and came as part of the Program for Accelerated Growth (PAC; Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento) initiated by Brazil’s federal government. It involved investments of about $4 billion. [14][18] The dam creates an indirect impact on 3,149 square kilometers in the municipalities of Paranaíta (MT), Jacareacanga (PA) and Alta Floresta (MT). [2]

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Project area:314,900 ha
Level of Investment:4,000,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:80,000
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Odebrecht from Brazil
Companhia Hidrelétrica Teles Pires S.A. (CHTP) from Brazil - Operator of UHE Teles Pires
Neoenergia from Brazil
Furnas Centrais Elétricas from Brazil
Eletrosul Centrais Elétricas S/A from Brazil
Leme Engenharia from Brazil - Licensing of the dam
Teles Pires Participações S.A. from Brazil - Consortium owning 99.1% of CHTP, controlled by Neoenergia, Eletrosul and Furnas
Relevant government actors:Brazilian Government
IBAMA
FUNAI
Federal Public Ministry (MPF)
Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE)
Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica (Aneel)
International and Finance InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Brasil) (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Munduruku community & Movimento Ipereg Ayu
Associação Pahyhy’p, Associação Da’uk, Associação Pariri, Associação Dace
Associação de Defesa Etnoambiental Kanindé
Communities of Montanha and Mangabal

International Rivers
Repórter Brasil
Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV)
Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)
Centro Popular do Audiovisual (CPA)
Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB)
Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST)
Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI)
Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB)
Fórum de Mulheres da Amazonia Paraense (FMAP)
Frente por uma Nova Política Energética para o Brasil (FNPE)
Terra de Direitos
Greenpeace Brasil
WWW Brasil
Amazon Watch
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Kayabí, Munduruku and Apiaká groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Global warming, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:In released statements, indigenous and other mobilizing groups over the past years among others demanded:
- the demarcation and protection of the Kayabí Indigenous Territory
- rigorous studies of the specific and cumulative impacts of all hydropower and waterway projects in the Tapajós basin on indigenous livelihoods; an independent monitoring of socio-environmental impacts
- a guarantee to indigenous communities to be consulted, according to rights established in ILO Convention 169 and the Brazilian Constitution 1988
- the cancellation of hydroelectric dams that were already under construction
- the establishing of dialogue between government, the private sector and civil society regarding Brazil’s energy policy
- the stop of arbitrarily using “national security” reasons to legitimate human and environmental rights violations in the course of infrastructural project sin the region [6][11]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] Fearnside, P. (2015): Amazon dams and waterways: Brazil’s Tapajós Basin plans. In: Ambio, 44/5, pp. 426-439.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Branford, S., Torres, M. (2017): Is Brazil green washing hydropower? The case of the Teles Pires dam. Mongabay, 18.11.2017. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[7] Gámez, L., Mota, C. (2019): Juruena Resiste: Luta histórica por um rio. Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil, 25.06.2019. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[10] Loures, R., Branford, S. (2020): Amazon’s Munduruku stage daring Christmas raid to recover sacred urns. Mongabay, 20.02.2020. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[2] Monteiro, T. (2010): A urgência insana de Teles Pires. Entrevista especial com Telma Monteiro. Revista IHU Online, 12.10.2010. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[9] BNAmericas (s.a.): Company Profile. Companhia Hidrelétrica Teles Pires S.A.. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[15] Olhar Direto (2015): Pesquisador alerta para a mortandade de ‘toneladas’ de peixes na UHE Teles Pires. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[11] CIMI (2011): Manifesto kayabi, apiaká e munduruku contra os aproveitamentos hidrelétricos no rio teles pires. ANA, 07.12.2011. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[13] Mota, C. (2017): Indígenas denunciam falhas no programa ambiental da usina Teles Pires. Amazônia Real, 30.05.2017. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[16] Respostas de Teles Pires. Repórter Brasil, 28.11.2015. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[3] Notícia Exacta (2019): Alta Floresta: aprovado projeto de lei que torna Mutirão de limpeza do rio Teles Pires evento oficial. 27.11.2019. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[5] Fórum Teles Pires (2018): Show de horrores. Medium, 26.06.2018. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[8] Mota, J., Mendes, A. (2018): “O governo quer acabar o mundo”, diz líder Munduruku. A Pública, 28.02.2018. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[6] ICV (2018): Nota pública denuncia violações a direitos indígenas no Teles Pires. ICV, 22.03.2018. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[17] Pinto, Ñ. (2019): En Brasil, indígenas Munduruku ocupan museo para exigir devolución de urnas sagradas. Avispa, 29.12.2019. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[18] Neoenergia (2020): Teles Pires. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[12] Fachin, P. (2017): Complexo hidrelétrico de Teles Pires - entre atropelos e irregularidades, povos indígenas são alijados. Entrevista especial com João Paulo Soares de Andrade e Karla Dilascio. Revista IHU Online, 10.08.2017. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

[14] Madeiros, C. (2017): Hidrelétrica inunda cachoeira sagrada, retira urnas indígenas e gera crise espiritual na Amazônia. UOL, 28.07.2017. [Online, last accessed: 20.07.2020]
[click to view]

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Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update15/09/2020
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