Buenos Aires, Aug 1 (EFE) .- The advance of the fires in the islands of the Paraná river delta, which plunged the neighboring Argentine city of Rosario under an intense cloud of smoke, worries the authorities and the inhabitants of the region , who demand a thorough investigation into the origin of the flames.
Some 8,000 outbreaks of fire have consumed an area of more than 530 kilometers since last February, according to estimates by the environmental non-governmental organization Naturalistas Santafesinos, in a common practice of farmers who burn land each year to allow the renewal of grasslands for the livestock production in the area.
This year, however, the flames burned more hectares than usual due to a notable drop in the flow of the Paraná River, at its lowest levels in several decades, which exposed more land where pastures grew and dried up several streams that previously cut the advance of fire.
Thousands of people protested this Saturday against the fires on the islands and cut off traffic on the bridge that connects the cities of Rosario (Santa Fe) and Victoria (Entre Ríos) over the Paraná river.
“Enough burning, wetlands law now,” was the motto of the massive protest called by the Multisectorial for the Wetlands Law and that on the opposite bank, in the province of Entre Ríos, had the support of other protesters, among them several owners of fields that attended on horseback and in vans.
The Environment Minister, Juan Cabandié, assured that “what is happening in the Paraná delta is a tragedy.”
“Those responsible for this ecocide are threatening biodiversity and the health of people,” said the official, who called on Justice to “end this situation that is causing so much damage.”
Justice summoned seven individuals, identified as owners of the burned land, as an investigative statement, while seven others were already charged for the first fires that occurred in February and March in the same area.
The islands are located in the province of Entre Ríos, on the east bank of the Paraná River, in front of Rosario, the third most important city in Argentina in neighboring Santa Fe, about 300 kilometers to the north.
The Paraná delta integrates a large wetland system with a rich biodiversity of more than 700 species of plants, 47 species of mammals and 270 of birds, in addition to various types of reptiles and numerous species of fish.
These wetlands cover some 17,500 square kilometers in the provinces of Entre Ríos, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires, in the so-called Plata basin, and it is one of the main aquifer reserves in the region.
(c) EFE Agency