The President of Brazil, Lt. Gen. Emilio Garrastazu Medici inaugurated the new Ilha Solteira dam?
The President of Brazil, Lt. Gen. Emilio Garrastazu Medici inaugurated the new Ilha Solteira dam on the Parana river in the State of Sao Paulo on Wednesday (16 January). At an official ceremony on the dam, the President pressed a switch that started two of the dam's giant generators.
This meant that four generators are now working in the still unfinished dam. Eventually, when it is completed in 1976, there will be twenty generators in operation. It is estimated that they will produce more than three million kilowatts of electricity from the vast sources of energy of the Parana river.
The first generators installed were constructed by Japanese companies, but others will come from European factories. When completed the dam will form a lake six times the size of Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay. It is almost four miles (6.2 kilometres) long, and it has been constructed with 19 million cubic metres of earth - half the volume of Rio's famous Sugarloaf Mountain. By the time it is finished, the Ilha Solteira dam will have cost more than a billion dollars.
It is the first of a series of large dams that the Brazilian Government plans to build on the Parana river. The scheme has brought a hostile reaction from Argentina because the river also runs along the Argentine border with Paraguay further down stream. In December Argentina and Paraguay signed a joint agreement to construct their own dam on the Parana.
Over the last ten years Brazil's economy has expanded to such an extent that it has outstripped Argentina as the major economic power in South America. Industrial growth has averaged a six per cent increase for the last six years. However, the country has to import most of its petroleum, and the Government therefore regard the dams on the Parana River as an indispensable power source for continued economic growth.