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Fast track to disaster? Brazil’s Grain Train plan raises fears for Amazon

Fast track to disaster? Brazil’s Grain Train plan raises fears for Amazon

BrazilFast track to disaster? Brazil’s Grain Train plan raises fears for Amazon Bolsonaro’s government plans to build a 1,000km railway to export soya beans despite warnings of a ‘catastrophe’ for indigenous people and the environmentTom Phillips in Sinop, Novo Progresso and BrasíliaThu 7 Oct 2021 06.00 EDTLast modified on Thu 7 Oct 2021 12.57 EDTThe Final Countdown blared from speakers and the crowd broke into applause as one of Jair Bolsonaro’s top lieutenants strode into the Amazon auditorium with glad tidings of a railroad to the future.“The ‘Grain Train’ is going to happen,” Brazil’s infrastructure minister, Tarcísio de Freitas, told the hundreds of mostly male spectators who had flocked there in a caravan of high-end SUVs.To the assembled members of Brazil’s agribusiness elite – among them several of the president’s most militant supporters – the “Ferrogrão” (Grain Train) is a long-held dream: an almost 1,000km railway that, if built, will link Brazil’s soya-growing heartlands with the northern ports that send their beans east to Asia.“It’s fabulous. The region will explode,” celebrated Adenir da Silva, one of the excitable locals who had come to welcome Bolsonaro’s minister to Sinop, the agricultural boomtown where the planned railroad would begin. Behind him a crane had hoisted an enormous Brazil flag into the morning sky in honour of the VIP visitor.To opponents, however, the R$25.2bn ($4.6bn/£3.4bn) project is a nightmare: yet another nail in the coffin of the world’s largest tropical rainforest and the indigenous …