thousands of opponents of a “megabasins” project in Puy-de-Dôme

thousands of opponents of a “megabasins” project in Puy-de-Dôme
thousands of opponents of a “megabasins” project in Puy-de-Dôme

“We have to do the rear basin”, “Death to tarpaulins”. Under the sun, the demonstrators equip themselves: sunscreen, blue paint and banners, some faces are masked, many wear hats. “And whose water is it? Ours,” asks a demonstrator on his sign.

Blue clothes, blue wigs to “symbolize water” at the request of the organizers – including Extinction Rebellion and the Earth Uprisings -, the crowd on foot, on bikes or in strollers, with their children or their dog, all generation combined, walked to the site planned for the construction of water reservoirs for agricultural purposes.

To the sound of drums, the crowd forms a human chain to materialize the route of one of the two planned reservoirs, aiming according to the collective to “privatize more than 2.3 million m3 of water for 36 farms, most of them linked to Limagrain “.

Some have brought beech shoots and oak trees to plant, others distribute walnuts and hazelnuts to be sown. Objective, to tour the site and “restore this somewhat bocage aspect that the landscape may have had in the past”, says Ludovic Landais, of the Confédération Paysanne 63, into the microphone.

Already on Friday, around a hundred activists had symbolically sowed +population+ corn, a non-sterile variety, on a plot about thirty kilometers south of Billom, Maud, from the organizing collective, told AFP.

– Irrigation and ‘food security’-

The BNM collective denounces “gigabasins” which “will be filled directly by pumping” in Allier, “an area classified Natura 2000 which locally supports the drinking water supply of more than 200,000 inhabitants”.

“In this country, the agro-industrialists, the people who make money, are much more heard, (…) it’s Robin Hood in reverse,” the AFP complains. national secretary of environmentalists Marine Tondelier, among the demonstrators.

LFI MP Clémence Guetté, who introduced a moratorium bill on mega basins, denounces “the government’s intention to support agribusiness to the detriment of small farmers”.

For its part, Limagrain explains that “it is essential that farmers can continue to produce quality crops in sufficient quantity” and therefore “irrigate when necessary”, in the name of “food security” in times of climate change. .

These megabasin projects, carried out by the Association Syndicale Libre des Turleuros – which brings together 36 farmers, including the president of the Limagrain cooperative – have not yet been the subject of a formal request for authorization, and their opponents hope to obtain a moratorium. The anti-basins accuse Limagrain of wanting to “secure its production of seed corn intended for export”.

According to the agricultural cooperative, the reservoirs would be filled by sampling in Allier between November 1 and March 31, respecting the authorized flow rate of 45.7 m3/second.

“When we started the first demonstrations, the majority of people did not know what a basin was. Today the balance of power on this subject against the privatization of water has increased considerably,” Adèle Planchard, from the Uprisings of the Earth, told AFP.

Water withdrawals intended for irrigation more than doubled between 2010 and 2020 in France, reaching 3.42 billion m3 in 2020, according to a report from the regional chamber of the Court of Auditors of Nouvelle-Aquitaine published in July 2023.

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