The Brazilian authorities have issued an environmental permit for the building of a the controversial dam in the Amazon. The Belo Monte dam will be part of a hydroelectric plant to be built on the Xingu river in the northern state of Pará.
Once it is built, the dam will put 500 square kilometres of rainforest and farmland under water. The dam was originally part of a much larger four-dam project which was scaled down in the face of public protest.
Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc concedes that the project will still affect the environment but that the impact has been considerably reduced. Opponents of the project argue that not only will the dam destroy a large area of rainforest and threaten the livelihood of the indigenous population, but it will also be inefficient during the dry season.