A rally against ‘megabasins’ in western France has turned violent, leaving dozens injured on both sides
Thousands of French activists marched on Saturday against the deployment of giant water tanks for agricultural use in the west of the country despite an official ban, leading to clashes with police and dozens of injuries.
According to the militant group Bassines Non Merci, more than 7,000 people gathered to protest against the construction of “mega-basins” of water in the village of Sainte-Soline in the Deux-Sèvres department, before some of them fail to enter the site.
In doing so, they defied a ban imposed on Friday by department prefect Emmanuelle Dubée, who said around 1,500 police officers would do their best to arrest protesters. In an attempt to justify the move, she said such protests had been violent in the past, adding that activists could “attack the police” and “damage part of the agricultural facilities that were in their way.”
As a result, clashes between militants and law enforcement ensued. According to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, 61 officers were injured, 22 of them seriously. “This figure shows that it was not a peaceful demonstration, but a very violent rally”, he said.
Meanwhile, protesters reported that around 30 people were injured by projectiles fired by police.
The water reserve is part of the project organized by French farmers to drastically reduce the consumption of city water in summer. However, opponents described the project as a “hydrant” speak “food industry.”
They also argued it could deprive local communities of access to water, a concern that has become more pressing after France went through an unprecedented drought this summer. At the time, dozens of municipalities were left without drinking water as national authorities introduced consumption restrictions.
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