A hydroelectric dam to be built on a river between Honduras and El Salvador raises the common tensions between large infrastructure projects and the disruption to the lives of local landowners.
A story carried by the Inter Press Service describes the project and the controversy it creates:
The construction of El Tigre dam on the Lempa River, which forms a border between Honduras and El Salvador, has unleashed a wave of contradictory opinions. Some claim there will be a loss of sovereignty over natural resources, while others say the resulting reservoir will prevent another war between the two countries, this time over water.
The first efforts towards building this 1.5-billion dollar hydroelectric megadam, which would be 100 metres tall and flood 72 square kilometers, began three weeks ago. And border communities are demanding more information and greater participation in decisions on the project's scope.
The idea to build the dam, which will have the potential to supply energy to 70 percent of the Salvadoran population, emerged in 1991. But it was not until Apr. 16, 2006 that Presidents Manuel Zelaya of Honduras and Antonio Saca of El Salvador formalised the decision....
The first to be surprised by the dam construction announcement were the border villages in the western Honduran departments of Intibucá, Lempira and La Paz, which staged protests along the border and in Tegucigalpa, the capital. The reservoir and flooding are projected to affect at least six Honduran communities. And no plans have been made for their relocation.
According to Salvador Zúñiga, of the Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations (COPINH), the megaproject would displace some 20,000 people, although the government estimates put the total at around 5,000.
"We are ready to engage in dialogue, we are going to provide compensation, but now we are in the preparatory studies that will lead us to ongoing consultation with the affected populations of both countries and community leaders," said Jacobo Hernández, the Honduran commissioner for implementing the project, alongside his Salvadoran counterpart, Eduardo Zablah. (more)