The dam project has been criticised for its potential impact on Brazil's native Indian tribes [Reuters]

A Brazilian court has ordered the suspension of a massive hydroelectric dam project in the rain forest, citing environmental concerns.

Ronaldo Desterro, a federal judge said in a statement posted on a court website Friday night that environmental agency Ibama erred last month when it approved work to begin on the dam.

The statement cites 29 environmental conditions that allegedly have not been met, such as the recovery of degraded areas and measures to guarantee the navigability of rivers.

The massive Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the Amazon jungle state of Para would be the third-largest
hydroelectric dam in the world.

But the $11bn project has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad over its impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the region.

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

Public works projects in Brazil often face legal challenges, but many court injunctions are overturned quickly.

If this one is upheld, the ruling could spell a serious setback to the plans of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's president, for large investment in infrastructure projects.

The Norte Energia consortium building the dam is led by Brazilian state-controlled power utility Eletrobras.

The consortium said it would not comment on the decision because it had not yet been officially notified.

Source: Agencies