Four people associated with the construction of Brazil's controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant have been kidnapped by an indigenous tribe, according to a press release from developer Norte Energia dated yesterday.
The employees, which include two engineers, a security guard and a boatman working for an unspecified subcontractor, are being held in Kuruatxe by members of the Kuruaya tribe May 10, the conglomerate said.
The employees were visiting the village -- located about 400 km from Belo Monte -- as part of an environmental compliance program.
Norte Energia is now working with indigenous population authority Funai and Brazil's federal police force "awaiting arrangements for the quick release of kidnapped employees and service providers."
The 11.2 GW hydropower project has faced rampant opposition from a number of indigenous groups throughout its development, with a timeline marked by worksite occupations, approval cancelations, worker deaths and court-ordered work stoppages.
Most recently, a federal court revoked an injunction set by Brazil's Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) denied an operating license for the plant, saying its developer, Norte Energia, had failed to meet conditions required for its approval.
Budgeted at US$26 billion, Belo Monte is being built on the Xingu River in Brazil's northern Para State and will be the world's third largest hydroelectric complex when completed. Belo Monte has a completion deadline of 2018, though Norte Energia filed a request for a construction extension this past June.
A federal court rejected a request in July from from a public prosecutor to suspend work on the project because Norte Energia was accused of failing to consult properly with aboriginal groups potentially affected by Belo Monte.
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