Protest erupts following court decision to halt Majes-Siguas II irrigation project

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some 3,000 Peruvian citizens and elected officials, including Arequipa governor Juan Manuel Guillén, have come together to protest a Cuzco court's decision to order the national and regional governments to suspend the Majes-Siguas II irrigation project.

"This movement has just been proof of unity [in Arequipa]. We will keep promoting dialogue, without conditions. If Cuzco wants to enforce [conditions], we will find ourselves obligated to do the same. The constitutional court now has the final word," Guillén was quoted as saying by local daily AQP.

The ruling was based on the grounds that the project constitutes a threat to residents and the environment in the Apurímac river basin and indicated the need to carry out further hydrological and environmental studies.

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The project had already come under fire from social groups claiming it would reduce the availability of water in Cuzco.

Consortium Angostura-Siguas has committed to investing over US$200mn in Majes-Siguas II. The group, made up of Spanish firm Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios and Peru's Cosapi, was awarded the concession in September last year.

The project envisions the irrigation of 38,500ha in Arequipa, Cuzco, Apurímac, Puno, Moquegua and Tacna regions. Works in this phase include the 1Bm3 Angostura dam, an 18km water transfer tunnel, water intake and irrigation infrastructure.