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Judge overturns dam work suspension

A Brazilian judge has overturned a lower court ruling which suspended work on a massive hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle state of Para.

Federal judge Ronaldo Desterro had ruled that Brazil's environmental agency had mad a mistake when it approved work to begin on the Belo Monte dam. He said 29 environmental conditions had not been met, such as the recovery of degraded areas and measures to guarantee the navigability of rivers.

But Judge Olindo Menezes, of a higher federal court overturned the suspension, saying in a statement that there was no need for all the conditions to be met before construction began.

The 11,000-megawatt dam, to be constructed on the Xingu River feeding the Amazon, would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric energy producer behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu, which straddles the border between Brazil and Paraguay.

Environmentalists and indigenous groups say it would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded.

The government says the dam will provide clean, renewable energy and is essential to fuel the South American country's growing economy.

Officials say they have spent years planning to protect the environment and local residents before the dam was approved.

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