Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Transmission line pole types: destruction or improvement

On a recent Chilean court decision a judge accepted an appeal regarding the protection of indigenous rights, to be more precise protecting Mapuches communities and their lands. On 25th January, the Temuco Appeals Court cancelled a project called “Línea de Transmisión en Poste de Hormigón 110Kv Melipeuco-Freire”. This was a project for a transmission line of 110kv and 98.9 km long that passed through several Mapuche communities and land . The aim of the transmission line was to send out energy power generated by several hydro electrical centres. The project was approved on October 4, 2011 and the decision was notified to the community on October 18th.
Transmission lines as hunting perches.
Is the Environmental Commission the eagle or the pole?

On November the Mapuche community’s president sought invalidation of the project on the grounds that the community was not consulted on this as required by International Labour Organization Convention (ILO 169) - ratified by Chile.

The Chilean Environmental Evaluation Commission signed off on the project and stated that the environmental impacts of the power lines were minimal and required no environmental impact study. Yet, the Court of Appeal held that an environmental impact study was required and must be carried out before the project can move forward. Moreover, the Court stated that the Mapuche communities were entitled to consultation under ILO 169.

The right to be consulted
While I could not find the extract of the case we could speculate that the Court was referring to either ILO 169 Article 6 or Article 7 or both:
Article 6
1. In applying the provisions of this Convention, governments shall:
(a) consult the peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly;
(b) establish means by which these peoples can freely participate, to at least the same extent as other sectors of the population, at all levels of decision-making in elective institutions and administrative and other bodies responsible for policies and programmes which concern them;
Article 7
1. The peoples concerned shall have the right to decide their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use, and to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their own economic, social and cultural development. In addition, they shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes for national and regional development which may affect them directly.[looking at the last sentence we can argue that a transmission line (energy power) may bring development to some regions and so, the Mapuche community and land been implicated in this project, they should have a say]
Also Sarah rightly addressed me to other Articles that should be relevant in the Mapuches cause of action i.e. Art 13 and Article 15 both referring to the right of land as follows:
Article 13
1. In applying the provisions of this Part of the Convention governments shall respect the special importance for the cultures and spiritual values of the peoples concerned of their relationship with the lands or territories, or both as applicable, which they occupy or otherwise use, and in particular the collective aspects of this relationship.[ to pass a transmission line through Mapuches Ancestral land may disturb spiritual values for example]
Article 15
1. The rights of the peoples concerned to the natural resources pertaining to their lands shall be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of these peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources. [the judge indentified that there was the need to have a environmental study before the project commence – this clearly oversees that the environment may be affected]
Referring to today's title 'Transmission line pole types: destruction or improvement', I will say that for some  a transmission line can bring development and improvement of life but for others it could mean the destruction of their lands and culture, and thus their life.

Sources here, here and here.
The project can be found here (in Spanish).

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