Construction work on the 11.2GW Belo Monte Dam in Brazil’s Amazon region has been suspended after a federal judge said the project did not meet environmental requirements.

According to newswire reports, a federal court in Para state, under judge Ronaldo Desterro, ordered building work to be frozen until all required environmental criteria had been met, including contingency plans for river transportation. A statement on the website of Justicia Federal for the state of Para said that 29 conditions hadn’t been met, with four others only partially completed, Bloomberg reported. The court also reportedly prohibited national development bank BNDES from financing the project.

The $17B project, to be located on the Xingu River, would help Brazil meet soaring demand for electricity once developed. It has however faced fierce opposition from environmental groups concerned about negative impacts on the ecosystem and wildlife in the region.

Brazil’s environment agency had approved the start of initial construction work in late January, issuing project developers the Norte Energia consortium with a license to clear forest land at the project site and prepare infrastructure for the start of construction work.

Earlier this month it was announced that a consortium led by alstom Hydro and including Voith Hydro and andritz had signed a deal worth approximately EUR 500M to provide power equipment for the project. IMPSA, through ts WPE subsidiary in Brazil, was also awarded a major contract to supply equipment, together with all the penstocks, lifting equipment, and supervision of assembly and start-up operation.

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