San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Hondurans demand pay for expropriated lands

TEGUCIGALPA – More than 100 Hondurans on Tuesday demanded the government of Porfirio Lobo pay some $70 million in compensation for the expropriation of 10,000 hectares in the department of Olancho, where a hydroelectric plant project is being developed by a Chinese company.

“You want the Patuca III project? Then pay,” read some banners carried by residents of Patuca, a town located 220 miles east of Tegucigalpa, where the project is been built.

The government signed an agreement on Feb. 2, 2011, to pay compensation by last October, but landowners have received only 40 percent of the agreed amount, according to Miguel Navarro, president of the board of landowners.

Navarro said the dam reservoir and infrastructure will cover some 10,000 hectares expropriated by the government from 400 owners, who he said are still owed $70 million.

On April 16, 2011, the Honduran government signed a $50.5 million contract with Chinese firm Sinohydro – one of the world’s largest hydroelectric companies – for the construction of the first stage of the project, which began a month later, despite the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The funds were invested in the construction of a tunnel to divert the powerful flow of the Patuca River, as well as camps for workers and an improvement in access roads to the mountainous areas.

A new $350 million contract for the second phase is expected to be signed in coming months to build the dam that will form Lake Patuca, and for the installation of turbines and engine rooms, so that the first tests can be carried out in October.

The plant will generate 104 megawatts per hour in the first stage, later expanding to 600 MW per hour.

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