Residents claim transfer project is “ridiculous.”
SIX opponents to a controversial water transfer project in Spain have ended their six-day hunger strike.
The six, all residents of Castril in the north of Granada, were protesting against the proposed trasvase of water from the nearby Portillo reservoir to Baza.
Worried residents fear this will cause “untold damage” to the Castril River, which flows close to the town.
The 23-million-euro Government project intends to transfer drinking water from the Portillo reservoir, which lies to the north of Castril, 25 kilometres south to Baza at a rate of 220 litres a second through buried pipes.
The transfer is to allay fears the immediate area of Baza will suffer a shortage of drinking water in the future.
Ready to die
The hunger strikers began their protest on March 19 by locking themselves into the José Saramago library in the centre of Castril.
In a letter to the leader of the town council seen by the Olive Press, the six hunger strikers were prepared to risk their lives to save the river. They also liken the proposed water transfer from Castril to Baza to an “act of terrorism.”
“We are starting this hunger strike as a sign of protest against what we consider a true terrorist attack against the environment,” the letter read.
The six left the building days later on March 26 after being told of the existence of an alternative plan to supply water to Baza. Enjoying the support of both the regional government and water authority, this involves pumping water from the Castril River as it enters the Negratin Reservoir at a cost of 11 million euros.
However, it is not yet known if the authorities will opt for the cheaper option.
Speaking after the opponents stepped out of the cultural centre that had been their home for six days, town mayor José Juan López Ródenas moved swiftly to criticise the actions of the men.
“The hunger strike was a political stunt,” he said.
“It was a well-orchestrated campaign by a group of environmentalists and the former mayor of Castril. The hunger strikers demonstrated a lack of ethics and credibility.”
The leader of the town council also alluded to the double standards of one of those who spent six days without food.
“One calls himself an environmentalist, yet he wants to reclassify hundreds of hectares of land to build luxury homes,” newspaper La Opinion reported the mayor as saying.
He also said the transfer is necessary as water in the Negratín reservoir, ten kilometres to the north of Baza, is “unfit for human consumption.”
An un-named British resident believes any future transfer of water from Castril will cause untold damage to the area.
“Castril is the prettiest village in the altiplano area of north Granada. Water is its main feature with fountains and streams running through the village,” he told the Olive Press.
“The mayor says there will be no impact on Castril whatsoever if they transfer water from the river.
“To say this is politically ridiculous,” he added.
The un-named resident also claims the solution to the water shortage problem in Baza and the surrounding area lies in the nearby Negratín reservoir.
“The fundamental problem is that Negratín is one of the largest reservoirs in Spain and the mayor of Castril says its water is supposedly undrinkable for whatever reason. Instead of pumping water from Castril, why don’t they just clean the reservoir?”