Local opposition to Majes Siguas dam mounts
24 February 2014
The huge irrigation project in the department of Arequipa, Majes Siguas II, continues to generate conflict over its impact on the availability of water up in the southern highlands of Espinar and Apurimac.
On 4 February the various groups protesting what they believe will be an adverse effect on the supply of water to their province, achieved a remarkable meeting with representatives of the Consejo de Ministros – effectively Peru’s cabinet. They met with the two Vice Ministers of Environment and Agriculture, the head of the National Authority for Water, and two members of Congress.
The various community leaders, from the Municipality and the two local ‘Defence’ organisations, presented their project for the reasonable treatment of the needs of their region. They argued for ‘an integrated plan’ giving priority to the needs of agriculture in the Canon de Apurimac and the water consumption of the city of Espinar. But they say they were not listened to and the project will go ahead without taking into account their objections and proposed alternative. The result, they warn, will be ‘division and disorder’.
The project will dam the river Apurimac to irrigate some 60,000 hectares of new land in the pampa of Majes. Potentially it threatens water supply to small-scale agriculture in Espinar and urban drinking water supplies there, these threats being superimposed on the heavy water use and risk of water pollution from mining. Interests in Espinar are also in conflict with their own departmental government of Cusco, which is supporting the project.