It's altogether personal
Another telling fact that this is altogether personal is that the same protestors do not mind at all when the Crown traverses through zones that are “no-man’s land”. Just the day before the Youth Center clearing, a large stretch of the Crown got cleared, and some trees were cut. There was not a single resident protesting, even though the stretch lies in full sight of a regularly traversed road.
The fight of the protestors is entirely of a personal nature. This is demonstrated well by the following examples.
—>An old-time Aurovilian protesting against the Crown clearing at Darkali, verbally assaulted one of the spokespersons of the Auroville Foundation, saying that he wished for her to lose her child, that “somebody should take him away from you”, and that he was sorry that her son had such a mother.
—>The residents of Auroville working on the ground to manifest the crown get regularly aggressed, insulted, spat at, given the middle finger, by the protestors. One western Auroville resident told one of the spokespersons to “go back where you came from”. She is from India, he is not.
—>Another spokesperson of the Auroville Foundation found all 4 tires of his car slashed with a knife, and the clutch damaged.
Deconstructing false narratives
It is easy to deconstruct these 2 narratives as false:
One, the concern for the environment is highly selective and pops up only when their areas or their friends’ areas are under question. For example, when Ashwagandha acres of forest was cleared of all trees for the horse farm of one of the protestors today, no environmental impact study was demanded or done. It just happened.
A second example is when some youth of Auroville wanted a frisbee field at the heart of Auroville, acres of land were cleared of all types of trees to make for a very large playground, one more of many already existing.
Two, we have a community process that is designed to never culminate. Any agreement reached by the Residents Assembly can be overthrown by any 60 residents who can sign a petition and can ask for things to come to a halt.
Therefore, in the name of striving to reach community agreements, one can delay any progress in Auroville in any quarter provided one can rally up 60 people to agree.
Entitlement and false narratives
The protesting section of Auroville residents all have one thing in common: a sense of entitlement regarding their/ the Residents Assembly’s role in decision making regarding Auroville matters, and a sense of de facto ownership regarding the lands/ houses/ forests/ farms they occupy. The narrative used as a cover to hide these 2 factors are “environmental concerns” and “respect for community process”.
Land for the City
Out of the 1100 acres of land owned in the City Area, 312 acres are planted with trees and 89 acres, farmland. We have only about 700 acres of land to build the city.
In Darkali alone, there are 4 western stewards in 36.38 acres of fenced and land planted with trees.
Auroville land stewardship
Out of these:
1357 acres is land planted with trees. Presently 48 stewards take care of this.
1241 out of 1357 acres of land planted with trees are stewarded by westerners.
396 acres is farm land. Presently 16 or 17 farmers steward it, most of the farm lands (which requires hard labor) are stewarded by Tamil Aurovilians.
Auroville currently owns roughly 3300 acres. Out of this:
1100 acres are in the city area
1100 acres in the green belt
1100 acres are outside the Master Plan area
No one was physically hurt by any of the people present neither on the 4th of December nor on the 9th of December.
There were no hired “gundas” or thugs on the 9th of December when the part of the Youth Center built illegally on the Crown was cleared. They were volunteer workers from a nearby village who helped to make a human cordon around the workspace of the JCBs. They additionally moved people out of the way who placed themselves in front of the JCBs, or placed their children in front of the JCBs, or else climbed on the JCB to aggress the driver.
There were no JCBs sent to destroy people’s houses at night. The JCBs which were sent at night worked in an area called Bliss, which is abutting the Youth Center settlement. Additionally, there are no “houses” in the path of the Crown RoW on that stretch of the Crown.
Police presence to stop residents' violence
The police were called on site on the 4th by the Auroville Foundation to control a violent situation instigated by protesting Aurovilians who put themselves and placed their children on the JCB (earthmover). There was no violence from the side of the police.
Youth Center reneging on agreement
On December 6th Youth Center agreed in writing to dismantle the temporary structures, but then went back on the decision yet again because of other older Aurovilians who misadvised them.
Four trees will be planted in the Green Belt for each tree removed in the Crown RoW (additionally 10,000 trees to be planted before Sri Aurobindo 150th anniversary)
Darkali planting in the wrong location
Darkali stewards planted trees and made water catchment ponds on the area earmarked for the Crown for 20 years.
Youth Center Building and planting without permission
Residents of Auroville, including but not limited to Youth Center inhabitants, built a part of the Youth Center and planted trees on the Crown as a show of rebellion against the Master Plan roughly 20 years ago.
Area occupied by the Crown
The Crown right-of-way (RoW) is only 0.36% of the entire Master Plan area of 20 sq.km. This means that out of nearly 5000 acres, only 18 acres will be used for the Crown RoW which will serve as the city’s primary corridor for mobility and infrastructure.