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Colombian reservoir fills with controversy

Colombia’s 340MW Urra hydro power plant began generating 85MW of electricity, after the reservoir started filling early this year. But the filling of the reservoir is being opposed by the Embera Katio indigenous community, who live in the area being submerged. The project was halted in August 1998 after a Colombian court ruled that Urra had not adequately consulted the aboriginal community.

The Colombian government has tried to reach an agreement with the 2500-member Embera community about their relocation. After much negotiation, ending without agree-ment, Colombia’s Environment Min-istry gave the go-ahead for the project.

In its 1998 ruling the court imposed a time limit of two years on the negotiations, but when no agreement was reached the responsibility for the decision passed into the environment minister’s hands, who gave the utility permission to fill the plant’s reservoir.