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Brazil delays bidding on ‘Avatar’ dam

Avatar director James Cameron is applauding a move to temporarily stop bidding on a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.A Brazilian federal judge in Para state yesterday delayed the auction for the contract to build what would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric power plant. The bidding had been due to start next Tuesday.The planned Belo Monte dam, approved in February, has drawn fury from environmental and Indian groups who say it will destroy a vast area of rainforest and the way of life of dozens of indigenous communities. But director of the mega hit 3D film, James Cameron warns the fight in what he calls a "real-life Avatar" battle is not over yet.The judge said the court needed longer to look at claims from Brazil's attorney general that there are not enough environmental protections at the site."It's a small victory for us, but I don't expect the battle is over," Cameron told The Associated Press news service from the Amazon city, Altamira, where he was backing a protest against the dam.

Mr Cameron, who is also the director of Titanic spent Monday and Tuesday visiting Indian villages near the proposed site of the dam on the Xingu River, which feeds the Amazon River. He met about 50 leaders of various Indian groups, some of whom travelled for days on rivers for a meeting about the dam.There was cheering on the streets of Altamira when the decision was announced yesterday. "The people of the town and the area are opposed to the dam. There will be few local benefits of this dam," he said. "It's personal now, because I know these people who will be affected by this dam."Judge Antonio Carlos de Almeida Campelo granted an urgent injunction, because of the “danger of irreparable harm" considering how soon the auction is, Reuters news service reported. "It remains proven unequivocally that the Belo Monte hydroelectric will exploit the hydro energetic potential in areas occupied by indigenous people who will be directly affected by the construction and development of the project," he said in the decision.

Avatar is all about a fictitious race fighting to protect its homeland, the forest-covered moon Pandora, from plans to extract its resources. It has struck a chord with environmentalists worldwide, from China, where millions have been uprooted by major infrastructure projects, to Bolivia, where President Evo Morales praised the film for sending the message of saving the environment from exploitation.

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