In Deux-Sèvres, clashes with the gendarmerie during a demonstration against the “megabasins”

Clashes marked the demonstration in opposition to the “megabasins”, Saturday March 26, 2022, in La Rochenard (Deux-Sèvres).

Sporadic clashes between gendarmes and demonstrators marked, Saturday afternoon, March 26, in La Rochénard (Deux-Sèvres), a mobilization which brought together thousands of people in opposition to the “megabasins”, these giant water reserves intended for the agricultural irrigation.

The “maraîchin spring”, an event scheduled to last until Sunday, gathered between 4,200 (according to the prefecture) and 7,000 people (according to the organizers) on Saturday.

In the afternoon, clashes opposed certain demonstrators with the police for an hour, with exchanges of stone throwing, firework mortars, and tear gas and de-encirclement grenades.

The first clashes occurred when groups of demonstrators moved towards an area prohibited by the authorities. Shortly before, some had just dug up, with shovels and pickaxes, pipe elements “intended to be connected to the network of future basins”according to the Uprisings of the earth, co-organizer of the mobilization.

Around 6 p.m., the procession calmly returned to the starting point of the demonstration in La Rochénard.

“A privatization of water”

Gathered at the call of the collective Bassines non merci, spearhead of the opposition to the projects of these water reservoirs, and of the Confédération paysanne, the demonstrators demand “the cessation of all “mega-basin” projects”which they regard as “water privatization”.

Also supported by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV), the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizen Action (Attac) or La France Insoumise, they denounce “water grabbing by agro-industry”, “require work stoppage” and “the establishment of a moratorium on “mega-basin” projects”.

“Water is a common good, let’s share it”, “Recharge groundwater before storing water”could we read on the banners brandished in a crowd made up of young adults and retirees, families, association and union activists, as well as people who came in overalls or hooded.

A very important gendarmerie system had been put in place, the authorities fearing that the excesses that had already occurred during previous demonstrations would be repeated.

Two helicopters flew over the gathering at low altitude and many vans and gendarmerie squadrons had been placed in the surrounding fields.

Several bladed weapons, including large knives and fireworks mortars, were seized during preventive searches in the morning, according to the prefecture which, like that of Charente-Maritime, had prohibited demonstrations within a perimeter of ten kilometers. in neighboring municipalities.

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To respond to opponents of “mega-basins”, around two hundred farmers also met in Cramchaban (Charente-Maritime), a few kilometers away, at the call of the Rural Coordination, for a “defense rally” near a degraded restraint during a demonstration in November.

The “mega basins”, excavations covered with a plasticized membrane, must be fed by watercourses and groundwater in winter to serve irrigating farmers in summer when the resource is lacking.

In recent years, opposition to these projects has crystallized in the Deux-Sèvres, particularly in Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon, where the first of the sixteen reservoirs planned for the Sèvre Niortaise basin, crucial for food from the Marais poitevin.

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The World with AFP

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