For the Official Registry of the Meeting of the Waters and the Pontas das Lajes Geological Site: Against the construction of the Porto das Lajes at the Meeting of the Waters
The meeting of the waters of the Negro and Solimões rivers, which forms the Amazonas River, is one of the natural marvels of the Amazon, of Brazil and the World. This icone is recognized as a local patrimony of humanity, which should be preserved so that people now and in the future can be benefited by the natural and human richness of this landscape. This patrimony is protected by the federal constitution and the State of Amazonas as a cultural element of symbolic and landscape value, representative of the Amazon and its people.
A true spectacle of nature, which elicited responses of surprise and admiration from early colonists, the meeting of the waters elicited the following exclamation from Brother Gaspar de Carvajal in 1542: “We saw the mouth of another giant river, which entered that which we navigated on the left margin, and whose water was black as ink and, for this, we called it the Negro River. Its waters flowed with such ferocity that for more than twenty leagues they created a black band on the other river without mixing.” This symbol of the Amazon is now being threatened by the imminent construction of the Porto das Lajes at the meeting of the waters of the Negro and Solimoes rivers on the left bank of the Amazonas river, at the mouth of Lago do Aleixo, near the Private Natural Reserve, Nossa Senhora das Lajes, of the Industrial zone of Manaus and the communities of Colônia Antonio Aleixo. Thus, the meeting of the waters and the Ponta das Lajes Geological Site represent our geographical identity and our natural memory, just as the Corcovado and Chapada Diamantina do in their respective regions.
In this area, where, antagonically, the port facility would be constructed, the city of Manaus intends to build the Meeting of the Waters Scenic Outlook, design by the renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, as well as a new municipal water station, designed to collect, treat and deliver potable water to 500,000 residents, using federal funds.
The mega-project of the port terminal would construct a patio of more than 100,000 m2, with a capacity to handle 250,000 containers, reducing the future quality of life in Manus, indeed it would degrade the landscape, defacing our principal tourist attraction, the meeting of the waters, and also destroy important archeological and geological sites in the region of Pontas das Lajes. The port terminal will also degrade a beautiful recreational area and silt and pollute, chemically and biologically, the river, directly affecting the water quality at the water station which will be constructed downstream from the port, as well as destroying fisheries resources and negatively affecting the development of community tourism in the Colônia Antônio Aleixo Community and surrounding areas.
The state and federal public prosecutors are currently investigating irregularities in the construction of the port complex. The communities of Lago do Aleixo have also positioned themselves against the construction of the port, due to the expected degradation of the landscape, deforestation, siltation and pollution of lakes and river beds, impacts on aquatic fauna, including fisheries and dolphins, as well as the degradation of important archeological and geological sites and the impoverishment of natural and cultural resources used by the local community.
The local residents have clamored for the local environmental agency, responsible for licensing the construction, to require the builders to construct the port in an already degraded area, less important for the local landscape, and, following existing environmental legislation, to carry out a thorough environmental impact study (EIA/RIMA), capable of identifying the principal social and environmental impacts of the construction, including adequate input from local communities. This study should propose clear and concrete measures for mitigating and compensating all expected negative social and environmental impacts.
We, representatives of the Civil Society, “Amigos de Manaus, manifest our indignation with our local officials, who would permit the degradation of natural and cultural resources, showing a grave lack of social and environmental responsibility. We therefore demand that the fluvial terminal, Porto das Lajes, not be constructed at the meeting of the waters and that this region, including both margins of the river and associated islands and lakes be transformed into a conservation area, for use as a scenic landscape and a recreational area, and for the sustainable use of its natural resources, guaranteeing the preservation of this patrimony for future generations. Finally, we request the Minister of Culture of Brazil to officially register the Meeting of the Waters and Ponta das Lajes Geological Site and request UNESCO to declare these areas as Natural Patrimonies of Humanity.
Manaus, 17 de dezembro de 2008.
Associação Amigos de Manaus - AMANA / Fórum Permanente de Defesa da Amazônia / Associação de Moradores da Colônia Antonio Aleixo / Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Arquidiocese de Manaus / Núcleo de Cultura Política do Amazonas – NCPAM/UFAM / Sindicato dos Jornalistas do Estado do Amazonas / Centro Social e Educacional do Lago do Aleixo / Associação, Cultural, Ambiental e Tecnológica – WOMARÃ / Associação Jesus Gonçalves / Associação Beneficente dos Locutores Autônomos de Manaus / Associação Chico Inácio / Conselho Municipal de Mulheres / Articulação de Mulheres do Amazonas - AMA / Movimento Articulado de Mulheres da Amazônia – MAMA.
Foto: Khemerson Macedo