Public hearing debates water conflict in the west region of Bahia

In order to promote social peace and the best way to resolve the conflict involving water management in the western region of Bahia, a Public Hearing was held on May 30th to address the lawsuit filed by the Associação Ambientalista Corrente Verde (Green Chain Environmentalist Association) against the company Sudotex, in the municipality of Correntina (BA). The event lasted more than eight hours, starting at 9am and continuing until the night, at the headquarters of the Court of Justice of Bahia (TJBA) in Salvador.

The region of western Bahia has been under conflict since the 1970s, with the beginning of the invasion of the traditional communities territories for agricultural expansion, and later, for agribusiness. With the development model already installed in the region, water has become the most coveted asset for transnational corporations and companies such as Sudotex, which with the discourse of generating employment for the population has already killed the  Santo Antônio river and plans to advance more and more over others rivers.

The public civil action asks for the immediate cancellation of the grants, bestowed by the State Institute of Environment and Water Resources (Inema), giving full rights and conditions to drill in a single property (Fazenda Sudotex), 17 artesian wells of high flow, for the construction of 10 big pools. This water that would come out of Urucuia Aquifer, would bring irreversible impacts on the environment.

Associação Corrente Verde denounces the consequence of the agribusiness model that deforests thousands of hectares of the Cerrado (savanna) biome, dries rivers and streams, and spills blood from environmentalists, workers and farm workers. Marcos Rogério dos Santos, president of the Association, narrated about the processes of deforestation in the region, made a historical panorama of the people’s struggle to defend the rivers and recalled his childhood when he used natural waters for leisure: “The rivers were huge, we  bathed in the river. I want my son and the son of Seu Antônio [owner of Sudotex] to have the same right that I once had. Because without water and without Cerrado there is no life”. 

The Bahia Public Prosecutor’s Office favored the suspension of new grants and the inspection of the productive activities. There are currently no limits to the exploitation of natural resources and the technical criteria of concessions are outdated. “Unfortunately, Brazil is not prepared for water management. Entrepreneurs need limits, because we have a historical reality that calls for justice”, the prosecutor said.