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Extension of Tucuruí transmission line to Roraima, Brazil

A new government decree is advancing the start of construction of an electrical transmission line between Boa Vista and Manaus, crossing through the indigenous reserve of the Waimiri Atroari, who have been opposing the project but were not consulted.


At the beginning of 2019, Brazil’s new government announced the construction start of an electrical transmission line from Manaus to Boa Vista, as an extension of the existing Tucuruí transmission line. It would connect the isolated state of Roraima to the Brazilian energy grid, following the same corridor as the BR-174, including about 125 kilometers running through the territory of the Waimiri Atroari and pass about 7 kilometers from the territory of the isolated Pirititi tribe. The line had been proposed since the controversial constructions of BR-174 highway in the 1970s but it was especially pushed forward in the last decade. It has faced strong opposition from the Waimiri Atroari group as well as regional politicians and non-government organizations. Looking back on a long history of violent conflict and ‘development’ interventions (see also related cases of the BR-174 construction, the Pitinga mine and the Balbina hydroelectric dam in the EJAtlas), leading to the group’s almost-extinction in the 1980s and an ongoing struggle for basic rights, the Waimiri Atroari (self-denomination: Kinja) today consists of 31 villages with a total number of 1,600 – 2,000 people.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Extension of Tucuruí transmission line to Roraima, Brazil
State or province:Amazonas - Roraima
Location of conflict:Waimiri Atroari Indigenous Territory
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Transnorte Energia S.A., a consortium between the companies Alupar (51%) and Eletronorte (49%), holds the concession for the transmission line section between Manaus and Boa Vista since 2011. In 2015 it was controversially granted a preliminary environmental license for the construction. The section of the line would have a capacity of 500 KW and a total length of 721km. It would connect Roraima to Brazil’s central energy grid and thereby extend the existing Tucuruí transmission line. Extending over 1,800 kilometers, the line currently leads from Pará to Manaus, Amazonas, and supplies homes and industries in the Northern Amazon region – particularly Vale’s aluminum industries in Pará and the Polo Industrial in Manaus – with hydroelectricity from Tucuruí, Brazil’s first mega-dam.

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Level of Investment:268,372,710.00 USD
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,600 - 2,000
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Transnorte Energia (TNE) from Brazil - holds the concession for the transmission line
Alupar from Brazil - Part of transmission line consortium
Centrais Elétricas do Norte do Brasil S.A. – Eletronorte (Eletronorte) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:FUNAI
Federal and regional governments
National Defense Council
National Electrical Energy Agency (Aneel)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação Waimiri-Atroari
Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon
Conselho Regional Indígena de Roraima (CIR)
Comissão de Meio Ambiente
Comissão de Minas e Energia e os Direitos Humanos
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Waimiri Atroari indigenous group
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Fires, Global warming, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsHigher risk of cancer
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Institutional changes
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:As an alternative to the transmission line, the state of Roraima had been examining wind and solar power projects. While these would avoid the controversial crossing of indigenous livelihoods and presumable ecological conflicts, viability studies have also shown that these alternative plans would result cheaper. [9] [10]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The Waimiri Atroari community is again confronted with interventions into its livelihood and the violation of basic rights. Studies have shown the probable socio-environmental damages of the project, while alternative energy models have so far been omitted. With the transmission line, the state of Roraima would receive its energy supply from one of the world’s largest and most controversial hydroelectric projects, the Tucuruí dam in Pará.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

ILO Convention 169 on the rights of tribal people
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

1. Trajano, A. (2016): Waimiri Atroari não autorizam linhão de Tucuruí em suas terras. Amazônia Real, 07.01.2016. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

2. Duailibi, J. (2019): Licenças para linhão de Tucuruí devem sair até maio. G1 Globo, 22.02.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

9. Rocha, J. (2019): Brazil to build long-resisted Amazon transmission line on indigenous land. Mongabay, 13.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

7. Toledo, M. (2018): Índios liberam estudo para linha de transmissão que corta terra vaimiri-atroari. Folha de S. Paulo, 16.03.2018. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

4a. Marques, M. (2015): Senador de RR diz que 'interesses obscuros' atrasam obras de Tucuruí. G1 Globo, 20.03.2015. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

8. Branford, S. (2017): A stubborn dreamer who fought to save Amazon’s Waimiri-Atroari passes. Mongabay, 18.05.2017. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

4a. Marques, M. (2015): Senador de RR diz que 'interesses obscuros' atrasam obras de Tucuruí. G1 Globo, 20.03.2015. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

12. COIAB (2019): Apoio ao povo Kinja (Waimiri-Atroari). 01.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

5. Farias, E. (2019): MPF vai questionar na Justiça decisão que torna Linhão do Tucuruí questão de “Interesse Nacional”. Portal Amazônia Real, 01.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

10. Santos, I. (2019): Para Joênia Wapichana, “alternativas limpas e renováveis” podem substituir o linhão de Tucuruí. Portal Amazônia Real, 26.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

3. Solidaridade Ibero-amaericana (2015): Linhão de Tucuruí: “Estado está impedindo o Estado de cumprir com suas obrigações legais”. 23.09.2015. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

6. Portal Amazônia Real (2016): Justiça suspende licença prévia do Linhão de Tucuruí até consulta à indígenas. 02.03.2016. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

11. Instituto Socioambiental, Reuters (2019): Linhão em terra indígena de Roraima deve ter equipes com 200 fiscais e sigilo sobre minérios. 27.05.2019. (Last accessed: 01.05.2020)
[click to view]

4b. De Freitas Paes, C. (2019): Brazil works behind scene to greenlight Manaus-Boa Vista transmission line. Mongabay, 20.11.2019. (Last accessed: 01.05.2020)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update08/06/2020
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