Energy company vows to compensate 3000 affected by south Colombia dam

Some 3,000 people who are losing their homes or livelihood because of the building of a hydro-electric dam in southern Colombia will be guaranteed housing and jobs, said the company building the controversial dam Tuesday.

The $837 million hydroelectric dam project located on the Magdalena River in Colombia’s southwestern Huilo department requires the flooding of five towns and the displacement of 458 families.

The project is owned by Quimbo Emgesa, a subsidiary of Spanish energy giant Endesa, and has been the subject of ongoing protest by locals.

In an interview with  EFE, General Director of Endesa in Colombia, Lucio Rubio, said the company will dedicate $143 million, 17% of the project’s budget, to compensate social and environmental damages caused by the dam.

According to the report, Endesa said 1,764 of the 3,000 displaced are considered residents and will receive housing and additional benefits.

The company also promised to train and employ 1,272 Colombians who will lose their jobs when the area is flooded. Endesa said the 1,272 would receive monthly payments of $277 during their training period. Rubio said, “seed capital between $13,800 and $25,000 dollars will be allotted to the development of jobs.”

Despite these announcements, local farmers, fisherman and students continue to protest the project. Protesters say the social and environmental costs outweigh the promised benefits. Last month police violently removed protesters from the project site.

The hydroelectric damn is scheduled to be finished in 2014.

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