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In Critical State, Sao Francisco River Accumulates Projects Abandoned Halfway Through Construction

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Remanso is one of several riverside towns whose water distribution and sewage treatment systems were abandoned halfway through construction. The systems were conceived as a part of the Sao Francisco river revitalization project.

Last year, president Michel Temer launched the “New Chico Plan” (‘Chico’ is short for ‘Francisco’) in an attempt to resume construction, but not a whole lot has changed for towns like Remanso, its neighbor Sento Se, or for that matter, dozens of other towns located by the river.

Folha analysed the seven different budget execution plans that make up the revitalization project. The numbers demonstrate that investments in erosion control, waterways, water systems, sewage and trash collecting have been going down in these cities.

In 2015, during her last year in office, then-president Dilma Rousseff (PT) distributed R$ 125 million (US$ 39.5 million) for the seven revitalization plans.

When Temer took office in May of 2016, funding went down to R$ 96 million (US$ 30.4 million). Between January and June of 2017, it reached a mere R$ 19 million (US$ 6 million).

The “New Chico” plan anticipates the distribution of R$ 7 billion (US$ 2.2 billion) by 2026 – R$ 1.1 billion (US$ 348 million) of which would be distributed by 2019.

Cases like the one found in Remanso are not unique. Construction has been suspended in 10 cities in Bahia alone. Meanwhile, the sewage systems in nine of these cities have been built, but they still aren’t functioning.

The National Integration Ministry, which oversees most of the construction projects, issued a statement saying that “scheduled investments will become available over the course of time, which is why it would be a mistake to analyse funding on a year-to-year basis”.

When it came to the Sao Francisco revitalization project, the ministry, which is a part of the administration of president Temer (PMDB), also brought up projects that were recently concluded, such as the sewage systems of Cabrobó (Pernambuco) and Brasilandia de Minas (Minas Gerais).