After many struggles families of flooded area will be registered by Belo Monte

After years of many struggles, the consortium owner of Belo Monte, Norte Energia, has finally accepted to register the families of the lake from the neighborhood Independente 1, in Altamira. The families that live in an area which is permanently flooded since Belo Monte's reservoir lake has been filed, have mobilized themselves to be recognized as affected by the dam and demand to be resettled in another place.

The Office of Government of the Federal Republic informed through an official letter that the social-economic registration has been agreed between the Norte Energia and the Federal Institute for Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama* original acronym). The Ibama had obliged the company before to execute this registration, but Norte Energia has been refusing it, arguing that this would create a false explicative among the families that they would be resettled.

For the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), the social-economic registration is the first step for the official recognition that the community is affected by Belo Monte. “No doubt that this is a possible victory after an intense process of struggles and negotiations. Norte Energia has been always averse to dialogue and affirmed before that the company would appeal legally against the obligation to register”, says Izan Passos, of MAB's coordination, who lives in the neighborhood. He also safeguards: “This is not a final victory, our demand for a resettlement and compensation for all families maintains”.

According to the official letter, the registration process will be important for “the acknowledgment of the social-economic reality of the families that lives in this area (…) to propose solutions for proper housing and land for these families”.

The coordination of the community have demanded a meeting with the company, Ibama and representation of the federal government to explain the procedure of registration before it is initiated.

An intense process of struggles

More than 500 families live in the area called “Lake of the Independente Neighborhood 1” , most of them in wooden stilt houses (palafitas) and others in grounded landfills. This area turned into the most precarious living place in Altamira since the building of Belo Monte.

Due to the characteristics of the place, the habitants believed that the area was below the quota 100 (liable to be removed due to the Belo Monte reservoir). Norte Energia stated that it was quota 102, therefore would be not affected with the interference of the reservoir. The residents demanded that technicians of the National Water Agency measured the place in the year of 2016, which stated the area to be placed above the quota.

After this report, Norte Energia did a new study on the site and affirmed that the problem of the flooding in the area was related to a "suspended aquifer", therefore had no connection to the hydroelectric reservoir. However, after the full filing of the reservoir, a phenomenon occurred that did not happen before in the place. Houses around the pond began to present water mines and the wells reached the floor level.

The impacts of Belo Monte dam is not restricted to the interference of the reservoir lake. The families states that they have been pushed to live and continue living on this insalubrious area due to the raise of house rents caused by the construction of the dam. On this issue, the Federal Public Minister held a public audience with the presence of the National Council of Human Rights on October 10 last year.

The regional Ibama's office in Altamira made a repport (Parecer 02543.000005/2016-04) stating the link between the raise of house rents in the city caused with the arrival of Belo Monte and the occupation of the landfill. The report also raises that the reservoir lake has been impacting as a polluter in the area of interference of the dam.

It's also important to remind that these families are excluded of water supply and sewage treatment, and that was one of the obligatory conditions for Norte Energia to keep in Altamira's urban area.

On December 5, 2016, Ibama issued a determination for Norte Energia to carry out a socioeconomic registration of the residents to "identify the temporarily of the population influx in the region of Lagoa do Independente 1 (...) containing at least the following information: Identification of the residents, residence time in the place, origin of the occupants, reasons that led to their residing in the area and description of the housing (palafita or others). " Registration should be made between 20 and 60 days. 

Norte Energia issued an official letter (CE 0594/2016-DS) to Ibama saying that the company would not do the registration to avoid any expectation in the population that they would be compensated and requested to change the registration procedure for an investigation form named "Characterization of Residents From the Independente1 ". Ibama denied the appeal and maintained the need for registration process, applying a penalty to the company for noncompliance. Norte Energia threatened to bring legal proceedings against the licensing organ (Ibama).

Starting in January of that year, the community began an intense struggle process, targeting the North Energy office in Altamira, the headquarters of IBAMA and the Government House. With these struggles, there have already been three rounds of negotiations in Brasília coordinated by the Civil House with the coordination of MAB. The bodies responsible have not yet submitted a "definitive" study on the possible impacts of Belo Monte on Lagoa do Independente 1. The final version of the study should be presented in October, but a "preliminary" version should be published in August.