Ferrogrão grain railway threatens Amazon indigenous groups, forest

Ferrogrão grain railway threatens Amazon indigenous groups, forest

An Amazon grain terminal at night. International and Brazilian agribusiness interests are pushing hard to turn the Tapajós basin into an industrialized commodities corridor so it can handle future soy production coming out of Brazil’s interior. Photo courtesy of Mayangdi Inzaulgarat A serious dispute has erupted over Ferrogrão (Grainrail), the 1,142 kilometer (710 mile) railway that is to link the grain-producing region of Midwest Brazil with the Tapajós River, a major tributary of the Amazon. The conflict pits the Brazilian authorities – who say that the railroad must be built at great speed to reduce current bottlenecks preventing the harvest from getting to ports for export – against indigenous groups and traditional communities, who want to be properly consulted to minimize the impact of the railway on their way of life and the environment. The affected communities, particularly those of the Kayapó Indians, have seen the harm others have suffered as a result of big infrastructure projects carried out without proper safeguards, and want to avoid that fate. “The construction of Ferrogrão can’t go ahead without the conservation units [along its route] being strengthened, with better monitoring, protection and vigilance,” wrote Kayapó cacique (chief), Anhe Kayapó, In a letter to Brazil’s National Land Transport Agency (ANTT). “If this doesn’t happen, the indigenous people aren’t going to be able to withstand the pressure of land thieves, loggers and wildcat miners. This is what happened to our relatives in the Indigenous Territory of Cachoeira Seca. When the Belo Monte [mega-dam] was built,…

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