UNESCO slams Contraviesa reservoir plans

LAST UPDATED: 2 Apr, 2009 @ 20:00
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Heritage group believes reservoir will be used to supply “dubious” building projects

WORLD heritage group UNESCO has condemned regional government plans to build a second reservoir on the Contraviesa mountain range.


In a letter sent to opponents of the reservoir, the group claims the water “will be used in dubious building projects on the coast.”

The letter was read to thousands of protestors who had packed into the central square of Órgiva in La Alpujarra on February 3 to demonstrate against the Junta de Andalucía’s seven-million-euro project.

The news comes days after a primary study into the environmental impact of a luxury golf complex to be built near the planned reservoir. It found the proposed 1,700 homes there will not have a guaranteed water supply.

The report, prepared by the Junta de Andalucía, also claims the 350-million-euro golf resort close to the village of Rubite is set to be built on forest land.

There are fears the complex will use water from the nearby planned reservoir, which is set to be built once land has been expropriated from residents.

Not only has this controversial project been met with fierce opposition from worried residents of La Alpujarra but also political groups and a leading economics expert.

The Green Party recently announced plans to take the Junta de Andalucía to court. The group claims to have documents proving water from the reservoir will be used for the golf complex and in the invernaderos (plastic greenhouses) that are now appearing in the Contraviesa mountain range.

This is the second lawsuit taken out against the regional government after local pressure group La Mesa en Defensa del Agua de la Alpujara (MDAA) presented a private contencioso adminstrativo lawsuit in Granada.

Speaking at the demonstration in Órgiva, MDAA spokeswoman María Aragón said: “Alternatives have been suggested to supply water to the towns and villages on the coast.

“We believe the money the Junta de Andalucía intends to spend on the construction of the second reservoir should be used in building channels from the Rules dam, desalination plants and, above all, on improving the water distribution network that currently loses 30 per cent of the water it carries,” she said.

Leader of the opposition socialist PSOE party in Órgiva, María Ángeles Blanco also came out in protest at the reservoir.

“I have asked the provincial PSOE office to stop this project. La Alpujarra needs water, the prime material of our economy,” she told the demonstration.

Over estimates

Professor of Economics at Granada University José Manuel Castillo backed the Greens’ claims and also rubbished regional government estimates the reservoir will supply water to 15,000 people.

“The construction of the balsa will not guarantee water for the local residents but supply a service to the huge scale building projects in nearby Rubite.

“It will also fuel the spread of invernaderos and supply other illegal housing estates.
“The Junta de Andalucía states up to 15,000 people will benefit from the balsa’s construction but only 4,000 people at the most will,” he said.

Señor Sanchez defended the decision to build the reservoir. “The water will not, as has been said by some, go to golf courses or housing developments. It will guarantee a supply of water to the residents of the Contraviesa.”

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