More than a hundred buses traveled from Alicante, Murcia and Almeria to Madrid, bringing participants for a protest in defense of the Tajo-Segura water transfer, which took place at 10 am in the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz s/n, in front of the headquarters of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, as reported by the Circle for Water and the Central Union of Irrigators of the Tagus-Segura Aqueduct, who organized the protest.
"Participation in the event has been amazing," said Fernando P. Gómez, director of Proexport. "Nobody expected so many people in Madrid for an event that was organized this Christmas. Farmers, agricultural workers, producer organizations, trade unions and political parties of different ideologies have been unanimously calling for the immediate dismissal of Minister Teresa Ribera if no changes are made to the environmental flows proposed in the Tagus Basin Plan, an ideological and political measure, without credible technical or environmental support, which aims to cut by 105 hm3 the flows of the Tagus-Segura Transfer."
Protesters call for the dismissal of Minister Teresa Ribera if no changes are made to her proposal
"The sector's support has been overwhelming, not only by the people who have traveled to Madrid, overflowing the streets, but also by many companies in the sector in Almeria, Murcia and Alicante, which decided to close that day to encourage all their producers to go to the capital," said the director of Proexport.
The proposal made by the Ministry to raise the environmental flows with the new Hydrological Plan of the Tagus will reduce the contributions of the transfer to the Segura in 105 hm³ (78 hm³ less for irrigation than the current average, and 27 hm³ less for supply) in an area with water deficit. "This will entail significant damage to the horticulture of the Mediterranean arc, since the regions affected account for 71% of the national export of vegetables and 25% of the fruit," said Fepex.
For the entity, "the availability of enough water at an affordable price is a determining factor for the future of the production and export of fruit and vegetables in all producing areas, and especially in Alicante, Murcia and Almeria. Besides, today there is no alternative to obtain the water resources available thanks to the water transfer. The price of desalinated water currently exceeds 1.40 Euro per cubic meter for the producers, which is an even higher price than that of the water used in homes."
"If this proposal is approved, it is estimated that 27,314 hectares of irrigable area may be lost, leading to more than 15,000 direct and indirect layoffs and losses of property value estimated at 5,692 million Euro. There is no doubt that the modern and sustainable agricultural sector of the Spanish Southeast will pay the price of this ideological water policy, jeopardizing the future of its social and economic development," said Fernando P. Gomez, director of Proexport, who predicted that "there will surely be more protests."
The protest has been attended by the heads of FEPEX: the president, Jorge F. Brotóns Campillo, and the general director, José María Pozancos; as well as the associations most affected by the cut of the water transfer: The Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia, Proexport; the Association of Exporting Producers of Fruit, table grapes and other agricultural products, Apoexpa; the Provincial Federation of Fruit and Horticultural Product Entrepreneurs of Alicante, Fexphal, and the Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers of Almeria, Coexphal.