PARIS, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Clashes during a protest on Saturday against the construction of a large water reservoir for agricultural irrigation in western France left dozens of police injured, police said. announced the authorities.
The worst drought on record in France this summer has sharpened the debate over water resources in the European Union’s largest agricultural sector. The artificial reservoirs were supported by some farmers as a way to use water efficiently, but were decried by critics as being oversized and favoring large farms.
Several thousand opponents defied a ban on demonstrations outside the planned reservoir in the rural district of Sainte-Soline, with French television showing protesters wandering across fields towards the fenced construction area and being pushed back by tear gas.
There were 61 injured, including 22 seriously, among the police who were attacked with fireworks and Molotov cocktails by some demonstrators, the local prefect said in a statement.
French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau condemned the violence against the police on Twitter and criticized the protesters for “the intention to block a project developed locally for years”.
Green Party officials who joined the protest blamed an excessive security presence that mobilized more than 1,500 police.
“All this to protect a water intake in the midst of a drought,” tweeted MP Sandrine Rousseau.
Four demonstrators were injured and six arrested, the prefect said.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Marc Angrand and Jean-Stephane Brosse, Editing by Franklin Paul
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