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Hydroelectric plants, a story of lies and abuses

It never seems to end. In some parts of Colombia (just as in any other part of the world), they continue to dictate, with stealth and secrecy, how our surroundings are shaped. Like pirates or invaders, they prepare themselves for another assault on the land.


Hidroelectric pixabayJohn Elvis Vera Suarez


From a letter sent to Quindío University on 28 September by Elétrica S.A.S, we can confirm that there are plans for a number of hydroelectric projects – or “small power stations”, as they are referred to in their letter – in Quindío province.

“Environmental studies” have already been carried out in order to obtain the respective licences. The proposed small-scale hydroelectric dams Gris A, Gris B, Rojo B, Lejos A and Lejos B would affect the Gris, Rojo, and Lejos rivers. There will likely be a Rojo A project too, in which case we are talking about six possible hydroelectric dams. While it can’t yet be confirmed, this would leave the mountains of Qu  indío province in Colombia with even more scarred by hydroelectric projects.

In September 2016, La Crónica de Quindío, a local newspaper, laid out a number of reasons why we ought to reject deceitful projects such as these in an article entitled “Dams for what?”. It read: “They keep resorting to dirty tricks of this magnitude so that their objective of achieving their precious, yet bogus, ‘development’ is not frustrated by mere ecological obstacles.

Hidroelectric pixabay 2The economic goal, according to them, can’t be subjected to natural constraints that, in turn, are linked to the wellbeing of those of us who inhabit this beautiful corner of Colombia.

Much sought after economic growth continues to ignore our planet’s own limits. The destruction of our natural heritage is of no importance, the hydroelectric companies care little or not at all for people’s rights – or even their entire villages – swept away by their projects.”

Likewise, socio-environmental activists from the region have been saying for a number of years that the Bogatá-based energy company’s controversial proposed high-voltage lines in Quindío province are intended to support any future demand for mega mining projects in the region.

Taken in conjunction what we already knew, we can now suspect with a degree of certainty that these hydroelectric dams will provide the energy that will be exported across the country via these high-voltage lines. We ought to remember that various “small projects” can come together to form one huge megaproject.

Hidroelectric agua noche oro petroleo pixabayIn June this year I requested information from both the regional governor and the Quindío Autonomous Regional Corporation (CRQ) about the reservoir and hydroelectric projects in Quindío province. Both groups denied even the existence of such projects. Thanks to the letter mentioned above, it is now known that since 21 April they already had “the permission to gather information for the undertaking of environmental studies”, granted by the CRQ’s Resolution no. 810 and Resolution no. 815.

In 2016, the delegate for the Ombudsman’s Office for Collective Rights and the Environment presented her study on 8 electricity generation projects across 7 provinces. In it she warned about the continual “changes to environmental licences, violations of communities’ right to participation and damages to water sources”…

Lies and abuses of the law are part and parcel of the story of hydroelectric projects. This will continue…

(Translated by Matthew Rose – Email: Fotos: Pixabay

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