But the agency is ignoring "the main problem, the explosion of deforestation in the region,” Suely Araújo, Ibama's former president, told the AP.
The conditions established in the license are not enough to assure there won’t be a surge in deforestation, so it shouldn't have been granted, said Araújo, now a senior public policy specialist at the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental groups.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who is campaigning for reelection, celebrated the permit on his Twitter account as another example of an infrastructure project moving ahead under his watch and said the paving will help keep traffic flowing in the nation's interior.
“Brazilians have gotten used to cars and trucks getting bogged down on the BR-319 highway,” he wrote, along with a video showing deep mud on the road. “This time, fortunately, it is coming to an end.”
After Bolsonaro repeatedly promised to pave BR-319, the area around it this year for the first time became the Brazilian Amazon's main deforestation hotspot, according to official data.
The BR-319 Observatory, a network of non-profits including WWF Brazil, Greenpeace Brazil and the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations, says local communities haven't been consulted about the project, as the law requires.
“These peoples’ rights have been violated,” Meirelles said. ___
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