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A park in Bolivia bears the brunt of a plan to export electricity

17 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

The peacefulness of Monte Punku is disrupted every day at lunchtime, when many vehicles and hundreds of workers burst into this town located 188 kilometers (117 miles) from the city of Cochabamba. An hour later, they abandon ship and head back into Carrasco National Park, where construction is taking place on the Ivirizu hydroelectric dam. Such activity is new for those who live in this town in the municipality of Pocona. It all started when the Chinese company Sinohydro built a camp in the area, widened the road and cleared part of the forest where the dam will be built. The company got the $172 million contract in September 2017, and will clear 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of forest within the protected area, Pocona Mayor Juan Carlos Rodríguez confirmed during a visit by Mongabay Latam in 2018. Many have wondered how such a large project within a protected area was approved, but in 2016, the Bolivian government was able to declare the project as being in the national interest, by invoking Law 819. That same year, the Environment Ministry approved the environmental license. Clouds and forest in Carrasco National Park. Image by Arturo Muñoz. The Bolivian government hopes that the 290 megawatts that the project will generate will help it achieve its plan to export energy to neighboring countries, such as Brazil and Argentina. However, according to experts that Mongabay Latam consulted, producing this energy will come at a high cost for the area’s biodiversity, due to its fragility and…

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