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  • Is the work being done illegally and has the Residents Assembly processes been violated?
    The work done in Auroville of clearing the Crown right-of-way is done legally under the authority of the ATDC (Auroville Town Development Council, composed of Aurovilians) and the Auroville Foundation. The work follows the Auroville Master Plan formulated and agreed upon unanimously by the Residents Assembly of Auroville in 1999, accepted and gazetted by the Government of India in 2010 and reconfirmed by the Auroville community via its working groups in 2012. In 2009, the work of clearing the Crown had started without any opposition.
  • ls the recent development of Crown clearing coming out of the blue?
    No, it certainly does not come out of the blue. The Master Plan was agreed by the Residents Assembly in 1999 and reconfirmed by the Working Groups in 2012. The work on the Crown RoW started in 2009 and was stopped by the Youth Center residents and the Darkali residents. Nearly 12 years later, in an attempt to unblock the situation, since July 2021, the ATDC (Auroville Town Development Council, composed of Aurovilians) and the Auroville Foundation have held more than 50 meetings over 6 months with the stewards who were squatting the area demarcated for the Crown, but no negotiation came to fruition. On November 2nd 2021, the new Governing Board visited Auroville, took note of the slow development of Auroville and gave directions for the continuing of the work on clearing the right-of-ways as per the Master Plan. When the work started on the 4th of December, we had completed 12 years of intense “community process”.
  • Did anyone get hurt during the recent events?
    During the events of December 4th and December 9th, no residents of Auroville or of the bio-region were hurt. Some melee and ruckus happened: some Aurovilians obstructing the proceeding of legal work by placing themselves in front of the clearing equipment were removed by either the police (on December 4th) or by volunteers from the bio-region (on December 9th). There was some pull and push but nobody was hurt. The Police present on the 4th acted professionally though some police officers were insulted and one inspector’s shirt and collar, torn by a senior Auroville resident.
  • How many trees will be removed for the Crown Right-of-way?
    1,002 trees will be removed out of the 3 million trees planted in Auroville For each tree removed 4 trees will be planted. Additionally, the first wave of 10,000 tree planting will start on January 1st 2021.
  • How are the surrounding villages of the bioregion perceiving the situation?
    We must never forget that the people from the bioregion gave their land to the project of Auroville very early on for Mother’s vision; they are baffled that after 53 years, 3300 people are holding 3300 acres hostage, and very much interested to participate in unblocking its development, for growth in the development of Auroville means a growth also for the bioregion. It is very important to understand that Auroville has not been thus far developed without the help and physical labour of the people from the bioregion. Matrimandir, Sunship, Citadines and every single structure standing in Auroville today, could not have been built without the use of “outside forces”. Drawing a thick boundary between “them” and “us” will only result in further division and a receding collaboration between those in Auroville and those around. It is also imperative to recall that Aurovilians are not owners of the Auroville project. A few days before the Youth Center clearing, local village heads met with the Secretary and offered full support for the work ahead. It is on this basis that the volunteers to make a human cordon on December 9th were called.
  • Why is the petition known as “SOS from Auroville: The City of Dawn needs your help urgently!” on the website inaccurate, deceiving, unnecessarily alarming and emotional?"
    Quoted from the petition- “... sudden bulldozing of buildings and forest that have been built up as part of the community for 50 years.” There is nothing sudden in the removal of trees and buildings in the area called Youth Center/Bliss. Please see question: Is this all coming out of the blue? Further, on December 6th, the Youth Centre residents agreed to remove the buildings by themselves only to change their minds yet again the following day. The trees of Bliss forest and of Youth Center were intentionally planted on the Crown right-of-way 20 years ago, and the water catchment of Darkali dug, shortly after the approval of the Master Plan. This means there was intentional encroachment and malintent with regards to the building of the city from the get-go. Even recently there is evidence that this water catchment area in Darkali has been enlarged using a JCB while the discussions regarding the clearing the Crown right-of-way was ongoing, showing clear malintent and ulterior motives. Quoted from the petition- “The aggressive events of the last few days override these long-standing participatory processes, and stand against the community’s commitment to realising human unity.” In fact, the Residents Assembly unanimously agreed on the Master Plan in Auroville and it was reconfirmed by some of the same residents protesting today in 2012. The Residents Assembly may have been very sleepy over the last decade and failed its responsibility in a coherent implementation of the Master Plan but it is false to say that its processes have not been respected. Quoted from the petition- “ … midnight bulldozing of structures without warning to sleeping residents… ” No structures were bulldozed at midnight. The work of clearing the Crown RoW started on December 4th in the morning, some residents of Auroville came with their small children to sit on the clearing machines and earthmovers. In doing so, they prevented the legally sanctioned work from going forward. (This type of obstruction is a legal offense). The area where the work happened at night is called Bliss; there are no structures there, but rather mainly small trees and bushes. To prevent further blocking of the work and to complete scheduled work, the job of clearing was restarted during the night. The zone was cordoned off by some police officers to prevent people from entering the working area and disrupt the work again. However, still some residents again managed to put themselves in front of the machines. The author of the petition confuses and mixes here the 2 events - the clearing of the area called Bliss that partly happened at night on December 4th and the dismantling of some temporary and illegal buildings of Youth Center that happened on December 9th in the morning. Quoted from the petition-“... reports of police manhandling of residents, including temporary detention in police vehicles …” Some residents illegally obstructing the work, and refusing to respect the warnings of the police officers present that night to remain out of the working area were restrained by the police for a few hours. The protestors entered the working area and again forced the work to be stopped. These protestors were removed by the police in a professional way with zero “manhandling”. In fact the police did not react in the same vein when one police officer was “manhandled” and his shirt and collar torn by a senior Auroville resident. The police were also subject to verbal insults. It is important to note that Aurovilians are not above the Indian law and cannot break the law and be indulged while doing so. The Mother has stated clearly the Aurovilians must respect the laws of India, 50 years ago. Quoted from the petition - “... reports of large groups of people from outside the community being paid to enforce the clearance in an intimidatory manner…” Some residents of Auroville and volunteer workers from the bio-region were called to make a human cordon to prevent obstruction of work and to support the clearing machines and earthmovers. The machines for the work were legally sent by the ATDC (Auroville Town Development Council, composed of Aurovilians) and the Auroville Foundation to start the work at the Youth Center on December 9th. The workers from the bio-region removed people who were throwing themselves at the JCB and climbing on the equipment, made a human cordon and directed the work of the JCB to ensure that this time the work could be completed uninterrupted. Quoted from the petition - “... silencing of freedom of speech through various measures …” There has been no silencing or censoring of free speech; everybody has allowed to express themselves on the internal forums of Auroville and on social media or in the press, even though some residents have tried to spread lies and propaganda for the concealment of ulterior motives. The petition under question here is good proof of it. Quoted from the petition - “Despite the residents’ peaceful protests, efforts to negotiate and compromises, their request to postpone the development work on the Crown ‘right of way’ until further notice from the Residents Assembly has been ignored.” Please check the historic timeline (link) on this website to understand that it is now for 53 years that this basic development has been stalled while it was accepted several times unanimously by the Residents Assembly. Quoted from the petition - “The current events blatantly ignore the community’s established and legally-upheld processes of collaborative decision-making in the Residents Assembly.” Please check other Q&A on this website to better understand the processes mentioned. All the processes have been respected and only a small but very vocal part of the Residents Assembly is very attached to its privileges and status-quo. Its sense of entitlement and ownership has led to the current state of affairs and the current events related to development of the city of Auroville. The vast majority of hard-working Aurovilians are long-awaiting this development and do not have the will, energy or resources to keep showing up to say the same thing over and over again “we want the city to be developed in accordance with the Master Plan. This small group of residents of Auroville are mainly Westerners or privileged and independently wealthy Indias, who are holding onto large mansions, large tracts of forests, large properties and businesses outside Auroville (this is highly questionable for Aurovilians who are supposed to work for Auroville). This loud but small group seems to have forgotten their gratitude and appreciation for Mother India who has allowed them to reside on her soil and participate in the experiment of Auroville. Most of the information provided in the petition is either exaggerated or blatantly false, appealing to the emotions of people around sensational topics like “human rights”, “climate change” and “environment”, but not stating facts in their comprehensive complexities and historical perspectives. If you have signed this petition thinking you have helped Auroville, read the above carefully and reconsider your stand.
  • Was an agreement reached between the Youth Center and the Auroville Foundation to dismantle their buildings themselves?
    Yes, an agreement was reached on December 6th between the Youth Center and the Auroville Foundation to dismantle their buildings themselves and then later reneged upon. On the 7th, early morning, the Youth Center officially informed the Auroville community via a mass bulletin email sent to all residents stating that: “Dear Community, On behalf of the YC team, from tomorrow morning (7th December) 6:30 am your presence is requested at the Youth Center, to assist in the dismantling and re-location of the 3 main communal structures. We hope we can take this step together towards unity in our community, above all polarities. This follows a very intense meeting at the Youth Center this evening 6th December. This decision was very hard to take, but was collectively arrived at in an aspiration to work towards peace and progressive harmony and to ensure an outcome which reflects the values of Auroville. Please see the below letter sent to the secretary, following various meetings today.” A few hours later the Youth Center, under the pressure of some older Aurovilians, decided to renege on their agreement. On December 9th, the work restarted and the buildings were dismantled by the JCBs.
  • Was an agreement reached between the stewards of Darkali, the Aurovilians supporting Darkali and the Auroville Foundation?"
    Yes, an agreement was reached on December 9th between the stewards of Darkali, the Aurovilians supporting Darkali and the Auroville Foundation. The stewards committed to not oppose the work, the protestors also agreed to not block the work. However, on the 10th morning, the work restarted for a few hours, only to be stopped again by some protestors who decided to sit in front of the clearing equipment and earthmovers.
  • Were trees planted and buildings built intentionally on the future Crown RoW as a form of sabotage 20 years ago?
    For many years, foresters have been planting trees, sometimes precious trees in areas reserved for city construction and development. The same thing happened in the Youth Center, where some building and tree planting was done on purpose in areas reserved for the future Crown. This indicates clearly a will of non-collaboration and a lack of sincerity and honesty with respect to the community-agreed Auroville Master Plan. The violation of community processes lies herein. What are the reasons behind these actions? We can see now clearly that it was done to postpone, to create problems and to stop, if possible, any future city development. When did it start? This misconception started many years ago, probably soon after signing the Auroville Master Plan, or a little later if we judge by the age of the trees. This was an exercise of careful long-term planning. Why did the same members of the green people who had earlier agreed to the Auroville Master Plan act in this way? One interpretation is that when they were in need of certain powers to protect their huge areas of forest from outside encroachers, they were ready to sign any kind of agreement, even with the Indian administration, but they didn’t have the least intention to implement these agreements in the long term, in the areas designated for the City development.
  • Were small children placed in front of the earthmovers by their parents to block the work?
    On both the 4th Dec., at Bliss and 9th Dec., at Youth Centre video evidence shows the coordinated use of little children to obstruct work. This form of "activism", if it can be called that, recklessly combining children with heavy machinery, created very dangerous situations. The use of minors in protest is not only a punishable offense in India but also requires sensitivity and tact to safely deal with. At Youth Centre, while others were moving away from the JCB and falling structures to witness peacefully from a safe distance, at least 2 separate parents of very small children ages 3 and 5 respectively, can be seen intentionally and repeatedly positioning themselves closer to an operating JCB, just near a building, as it was being demolished. This counter-intuitive action to move closer to the JCBs and buildings with these tiny tots characterises the intent to obstruct, with total negligence and disregard for the endangerment of the little ones. In these sensitive and dangerous instances, the parents were repeatedly verbally warned and also required several attempts to effectively physically block.
  • Is Auroville a deemed forest?
    No, Auroville is a City from its very inception. However there has been immense afforestation work on the land since 1968, mainly to prevent further topsoil erosion and to improve soil quality. The species that were planted were foreign, fast-growing, and served their purpose very well. There are many areas planted with trees in Auroville, around 1,100 acres, roughly a third of the land owned by the Auroville Foundation. A lot of this lies in lands outside the Master Plan area (outlying lands), some in the Green Belt (area around the city 3 times its size) and some within the city area in designated green areas (50% of the city center will be green). Some of these pockets planted with trees, unfortunately, falls on areas allocated for buildings and roads, and some of this was done accidentally and some intentionally (some other answers in this page will elaborate on this point). If Auroville were to be considered a deemed forest, one very pertinent question to ask is, who has given the Forest Group of Auroville the permission to cut trees and wood from this “deemed forest”? What happens to the cut trees and wood? The sales revenue from this tree wood for the Financial Year 2020-21 alone was listed as 13.5 lakhs. Is this really the correct amount? Under whose purview is all this happening?
  • Is it true that the majority of lands planted with trees of Auroville are stewarded by Westerners?
    Auroville 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 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 require hard labor) are stewarded by Tamil Aurovilians. In Darkali alone, which is within the city, there are 4 western stewards in 36.38 acres of fenced and land planted with trees.
  • Is there a wrong understanding of what “Human Unity” means?
    A few concepts introduced by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are regularly misinterpreted and among these is Human Unity. “Human Unity” seems to be understood as : to be empathetic with each other, to be kind and gentle with each other, to live peacefully and harmoniously with each other, to respect each other’s feelings and emotions, to show solidarity, to give space for each other’s emotions, to always agree with each other etc. While these are all good qualities, they can be considered, at best, as natural results of living in a higher Unity consciousness or in Oneness with the Divine, but it is not the “thing” in itself. A thing that looks entirely disharmonious or unpleasant to the human senses can emanate from the highest consciousness too - it is not from the mind or the emotions that one understands, or lives out “actual Human Unity”. To live in Human Unity is a state of consciousness of the highest order, a spiritual realisation of immense value and intense inner work, and it implies “realising the truth of the Spirit; to acquire oneself the consciousness of Unity; by becoming conscious of the eternal Oneness; to realise the Consciousness of the one; is equivalent to a new birth, a birth into a higher sphere of existence.” as stated by The Mother in several messages in the Sixties. Unfortunately in Auroville, a more superficial understanding of Human Unity has kept the deeper experience from being actualized in the collective so far, and a need for external superficial “harmony” has kept the disagreements bottled up, avoiding real scrutiny on both individual and collective levels. The current events may be seen as a necessary push to discover a deeper and an actual Human Unity.
  • What will the city look like and what is the Crown?
    Presentation of the plan of the Galaxy at the inauguration of Auroville in February 1968 (photos above and below) The Mother gave her vision for an experimental town with four zones favouring the evolving conditions for man and it has been translated into the concept of the Galaxy (see Mother drawing below). The four zones are named Cultural, Residential, International and Industrial Zones. At the centre of the city is the ‘Peace Area’ with the Matrimandir, the Banyan tree, the Amphitheatre and the Park of Unity, it is the spiritual centre of the city. The Peace Area will be surrounded by a lake. Between the lake and the Crown lies the city centre with administrative buildings, habitats, schools, parks, Solar Kitchen, the Library, etc. The Crown is a special use zone, which traverses all the four zones in a concentric fashion, consisting of a circular road with buildings facing it. This Crown area will provide most of the service facilities required to support the activities in the four zones mentioned above. The Crown defines the city and its mobility: all that comes in or goes out or travels around is held together by the Crown, it is the inner circulation street of the city meant for pedestrians, bicycles and e-vehicles. The Crown area includes a circular Crown Road with a right-of-way that was originally planned to be 30m wide and which has been reduced to 16.70m wide. The Crown is connected to an outer ring road through 12 radials. Some data: The total Crown RoW (right-of-way) area is only 0.36% of the total master plan land area with a Crown RoW width of 16.7m. The land area of the main RoWs (Crown, 12 radials, International Zone loop road, outer ring, one link road) is only 1.64% of the total master plan land area. The total Auroville Master Plan land area is 20 KM2 The planned city area is 5KM2, Planned green belt area is 15 KM2. Planned built-up area of the city is less than 50%; the planned built-up area of the green belt is less than 5%. The radials connect the Crown to the Outer Ring Road. The traffic of essential services will be handled by some Radials with moderated timings while others can remain green lanes for pedestrians and cycles. The ‘Outer Ring’ will distribute conventional traffic around and outward or inward via specific Service Nodes and arrange transfers to e-vehicles as needed. The township includes a Green Belt with farms and forests. Already Aurovilians have planted over 3 million forest trees, hedge trees, fruit, and fuelwood trees making Auroville a beautiful green city.
  • Is the Auroville Master Plan outdated?
    Already in 1965, the Mother spoke about e-mobility. The town will have net-zero emission with distributed renewable energy generation and storage systems. Auroville has been using renewable energy systems since its inception and became a demonstration site for grid-connected solar PV systems in 2012. Auroville has also developed sustainable waste water recycling systems, innovative building materials and organic farming. Auroville has worked with the State and Central Government on sustainable development projects, policies and regulations. The Auroville Master Plan is based on the galaxy plan, which is a visionary plan. The Auroville Master Plan provides for sustainable energy, water and mobility even though it was prepared long before the concerns about climate change emerged. The township lay-out with an inner ring (the Crown), an outer ring and twelve radials connecting these two rings facilitates energy-efficient, effective, resilient and flexible mobility while also allowing for a resilient infrastructure network. Clearly, the galaxy plan and the Auroville Master Plan based thereon were much ahead of their times. In 1999, the Residents Assembly formulated and unanimously approved the Auroville Master Plan based on the Galaxy Plan and sent it to the Governing Board for approval. Now Auroville needs to demonstrate this at the scale of a township with 50,000 residents. We have to note also that thousands of donors and well-wishers have provided monetary and other contributions for the realisation of the Auroville township and in most cases after going through Auroville brochures and booklets, including the Auroville Master Plan. Government of India has provided grants for both the development and recurring costs of Auroville and has funded a major part of the township infrastructure. Local residents have sold their lands to Auroville, also with the understanding that a township will be built where their children could stay, get educated and work. All these contributors now see that Auroville seems to have been converted into an exclusive resort with developments that include de-facto private (family) estates, luxurious bungalows, private swimming pools shielded by “forests” and fences. The development of the township, including even the very basic development of the Crown Road instead of being supported with active participation is perceived and presented as disturbing the resort lifestyle and the control over vast land areas.
  • What about the Detailed Development Plans (DDPs)?
    Firstly, Since 2009, 40% of the Crown Right-of-Way has been cleared and implemented based on the Master Plan and the 5-year development plan enclosed therein. Now that the remaining segments of the Crown RoW that are being cleared are within the areas where the local residents do not want the Crown, there are calls for the preparation of detailed development plans (DDPs) and environmental audits. Secondly, the Crown Road is a Master Plan road. While urban development on both sides of this road (and other master plan roads) and elsewhere indeed require DDPs, the right-of-ways themselves do not. In fact in the approved Auroville Master Plan, development projects for the first five years were included in the Master Plan itself and one of these projects is the Crown Road (page 81). The Auroville Master Plan includes planning strategies for water, energy, mobility, green cover, agriculture, solid waste management, land use and the social infrastructure and if these are adhered to, and where necessary, improved upon, the end result will be a truly sustainable township. It is submitted here that most relevant environmental parameters have been included in the Auroville Master Plan itself. It is not coherent and is opportunistic when a section of residents demands DDP preparation as a pre-requisite for the clearing of the remainder of the master plan RoWs, while, for actual development that already has taken place, including hundreds of residential buildings, offices, guest houses, schools, cultural centres, sports facilities, restaurants, a visitors centre, community services, infrastructure, all existing roads and paths, street lights and tree plantations there was no such demand and no DDPs made or presented. As any Master Plan requires detailed development plans for the various zones and sectors as a second step, this raises the question as to why these were not prepared by those professional Auroville Residents, who demand these now, during the last 20 years since the Auroville Master Plan was approved in 2001. Previous Governing Boards have requested DDPs from the Auroville professional community but the latter did not deliver them. Many important collective buildings like the Solar Kitchen (collective dining room), the Library, the Auroville Language Laboratory, Savitri Bhavan, etc. have been built specifically to be on the sidewalk of the Crown by some of the same Residents asking to stop the work for preparation of DDPs today.
  • What outside agencies and Aurovilian experts are collaborating with ATDC (Auroville Town Development Council)?
    The DDP shall be addressing the following layers: 1. Compliance with AMRUT guidelines - Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) Delhi. 2. Urban design and Urban form: Vastu Shilpa Consultancy (VSC) as an external consultant. 3. Infrastructure planning: Mr. Ajay, Mumbai 4. Environment: Looking at experts from within Auroville Apart from this Anupama Kundoo, leading architect and town planner, who worked directly with Auroville’s chief architect Roger Anger, shall be part of the technical team of ATDC for Urban Design.
  • Will Auroville be a sustainable township?
    Already in the years prior to the inauguration of Auroville on 28th February 1968, the Mother had spoken of solar energy, electric mobility, new systems of economy and education. Auroville was envisioned as a City for the Future dedicated to the manifestation of the vision of Sri Aurobindo. Auroville will be a unique city in the world with a dedicated green belt, composed of farms and forests, that is three times the size of its city area, and with large tracts of green corridors and parks within the city area itself. Auroville has been a frontrunner in the field of renewable energy since its inception. Windmills for water pumping, solar PV systems and grid-connected wind turbines form part of the renewable energy installations of Auroville. The Auroville township will be a net-zero emissions township. The township has already installed distributed renewable energy generation and storage systems which are interconnected with an internal network. Auroville is also a frontrunner in organic farming, sustainable health practices, sustainable building materials and water recycling systems. There is nothing in the Auroville Master plan that prevents the Auroville township from becoming a sustainable township. It has already been demonstrated that interconnected systems of solar energy generation and storage can contribute to a sustainable energy future for Auroville. It has also been demonstrated that e-cycles are a viable alternative to motorcycles and cars. The problem is not with the township infrastructure plans but with the behaviour and lifestyle of some of the present Auroville residents, including the residents who question the master plan: − Water consumption in Auroville is 400l per capita (source: the TDC). About five times the average per capita consumption in urban India and ten times the consumption in rural India. − There are a few hundred private cars in Auroville and more than 1,500 motorcycles. These vehicles are used by persons who are fit to use a cycle or e-cycle. − The response to global warming in Auroville has not been a change to a less energy intensive lifestyle but just the opposite. Per capita electricity consumption in Auroville increased by 109.9% in the period 2012-2013 to 2019-2020. The per capita electricity consumption increased by a whopping 70.7% in that period, mostly on account of home airconditioning. Auroville increasingly became a lifestyle destination rather than a place for the change of life. − Every year hundreds of Auroville residents travel abroad, mainly during the hot summer months. For a round trip to Europe the CO2 emission is 2.6t. For a round trip to the USA, the number is 4.7t (average of travel to the USA east coast and west coast). Assuming that 300 persons travel to Europe and 300 persons to the USA every year, the annual footprint of these trips comes to 2,200t per annum. Auroville would need to install another 1.6 MW of solar PV systems to offset this emission. With the money spent on flight tickets every year accommodation for 45 youth or 900 kW of additional solar energy capacity can be built. What does all of this say about the climate-consciousness of the present residents? Is the problem with the master plan or with the lifestyle of the residents?
  • For the past two years we see two big cable drums lying out in the open near the area known as “Bliss” in Auroville. Why are these cables not being installed?
    These are underground high-tension cable drums. The cable is planned to be installed underground, inside a designated service corridor. Other underground services will follow (LT cables, water pipes, optical fibre cables etc.). These underground services are planned to be installed along both sides (inner and outer) of the Crown RoW. Since the RoW clearing work has been blocked by some Auroville residents the work got delayed resulting also in cost escalations and potential cable damage. On December 22nd, 2021, 230 meters of high-tension and optical fiber cables were finally laid out in the recently cleared Bliss area.
  • What is the role of the residents of Auroville or the Residents Assembly in the implementation of the Auroville Master Plan?
    Residents of Auroville are expected to work for the realisation of the Auroville ideals including the building of the township as volunteers (there is no private ownership in Auroville). The role of the Residents Assembly was to formulate the Auroville Master Plan for the approval of the Governing Board. This work was done in 1999. Now the residents are expected to collaborate in the implementation of the plan. Auroville Foundation Act extracts: “19. Functions of Residents’ Assembly.—(1) The Resident‟s Assembly shall perform such functions as are required by this Act and shall advise the Governing Board in respect of all activities relating to the residents of Auroville…] [...(c) formulate the master plan of Auroville and make necessary recommendations for the recognition of organisations engaged in activities relatable to Auroville for the approval of the Governing Board; …]
  • What is the role of the Governing Board in the implementation of the Auroville Master Plan?
    As per the Auroville Foundation Act, the Governing Board approves the Auroville Master Plan and thereafter needs to ensure that the Auroville Township is built in accordance with the master plan. Auroville Foundation Act extracts: “17. Powers and functions of the Governing Board.—The powers and functions of the Governing Board shall be—[...(e) to prepare a master-plan of Auroville in consultation with the Residents‟ Assembly and to ensure development of Auroville as so planned;...] The newly appointed Governing Board has decided to give a fresh impetus to the development of the Auroville Township on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. The Governing Board met in Auroville on the 2nd of November 2021, and it noted, amongst other things that Auroville township development had come almost to a standstill and that infrastructure work (including the installation of an HT cable with cable drums lying in the open air since two years) was blocked for many months. The Board also noted that the Auroville population is only 3,300 as against the eventual planned population of about 50,000 residents. The Governing Board met with Auroville working groups, with groups of residents with varied viewpoints and had an interaction with the community at large. All viewpoints were heard and carefully considered. The Board decided to accelerate with the implementation of the Auroville Master Plan as clearly mandated by the Auroville Foundation Act and gave the green light to proceed with the clearing of master plan right-of-ways, including the 60% of Crown remaining to be cleared, without further delay. In response to the concerns of the groups representing the forests, the Governing Board also decided to take up a drive of planting about 10,000 trees in the areas stipulated as green zones and the park areas, green corridors, fully sensitive to the ecology and environment.
  • What were the community processes held regarding the completion of the Crown?
    The Crown is a key component of the Auroville Master Plan. The Auroville Master Plan as approved in 2001 is based on the Master Plan formulated by the Residents Assembly, which also includes the circular Crown Road. In 2009, the implementation of the Crown started and 40% of it was built but then the work came to a standstill. Since July 2021, over 50 meetings and envisioning sessions had been organized by the Auroville Town Development Council with various groups of Auroville residents and with working groups, and with the active involvement of the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation. It was clear that the majority of Auroville residents wanted the city of Auroville to be realised without further delay. A “Crown walk” was also organized and led by the Secretary, with a few hundred Auroville residents, which was followed by a very constructive and positive community meeting. The Secretary had also pro-actively engaged with a large number of Auroville residents individually, working groups and land stewards of that particular area of Auroville land, in their respective areas. Subsequently, Auroville Town Development Council announced the restart of clearing work.
  • What about the petition signed by some residents of Auroville asking to “stop all development on the Crown until further notice from the Residents Assembly”?
    A group of residents of Auroville have have made an appeal calling for a General Meeting of the Residents Assembly (RA). The petition’s aim is to “stop all development on the Crown until further notice from the RA”. The process is ongoing. An Auroville Residents Assembly meeting can be called at the request of 60 or more residents. A quorum of only 10% of the residents is necessary for a proposal to be adopted or rejected by the Residents Assembly. Sometimes matters are brought to the Residents Assembly, which do not fall under the functions of the Residents Assembly as defined in the Auroville Foundation Act. These are some of the factors contributing to slow internal decision-making processes in Auroville. As for this new petition, it is not for the Residents’ Assembly to stop work related to the implementation of the approved and notified Auroville Master Plan. The development of the Crown is one of the first steps in the implementation of the Auroville Master Plan as also stated in that plan.
  • Have the community processes been respected?
    The community processes of Auroville have been fully respected. In 1999, the Residents Assembly of Auroville voted unanimously the Auroville Master Plan, in 2009 the work started without opposition.
  • Will a new Residents Assembly Decision change anything?
    The Residents Assembly has been created by the Auroville Foundation Act. Its powers are limited by the provisions of the Act. In relation to the building of the city, it plays the role of formulating a master plan as a consultation to the Governing Board. Under section 19(1)(c) of the Auroville Foundation Act, the only role given to the Resident Assembly in relation to the master plan is to formulate it for the approval of the Governing Board. This function has been fulfilled and the master plan was approved by the Ministry of HRD and the Governing Board in 2001 after making modifications on the advice of the Ministry of Urban Affairs (GoI). The Auroville Master Plan was notified in part 3 of the Gazette of India in August 2010. The Resident Assembly has no further role to play with regard to this matter. - Under section 17 (e) of the Auroville foundation act, the Governing Board is mandated to ensure development of Auroville as per the Master Plan of Auroville. - The Governing Board in its meeting of 2nd November 2021 has given detailed directions to be followed in order to implement the Master Plan. The Residents Assembly has no business to interfere in these directions. By calling a meeting to put on hold all further developments on the Crown road, the Residents Assembly is acting outside its sphere of responsibility and the legality of such an action is questionable.
  • Is the Government of India taking over?
    No, the Government of India (GOI) cannot take over an institution that it is a part of and has recognized through the passing of a parliamentary act. The Auroville Foundation Act clearly delimits the role of the Residents Assembly of Auroville and the Government of India via its Governing Board and its Secretary of the Auroville Foundation. Already in 1988, The Government of India came to the help of Auroville, upon the request of its residents, and created a legal frame to protect Auroville. Since then it has financed and supported Auroville in many aspects of its development: educational, infrastructures, long-term visas for foreigners, etc. Since the development of Auroville has been stagnating for 2 decades now, the new Governing Board has taken seriously its role of implementation of the City as per the Master Plan, and to help Auroville accelerate its development and invite people of the world. A silent and hard-working majority of the Aurovilians welcome this new support. It is understood that the GOI is only helping implement what has been unanimously decided by the Residents Assembly.
  • Is there a silent majority in Auroville?
    Auroville is composed of 3,300 residents, 2,600 are adults, 45% are Indians and 55% are foreigners, among those foreigners, most are coming from European countries. There are very few Indians opposing the development of the city, the vast majority of the protestors are from European countries, they are usually quite wealthy and have a strong sense of privilege, entitlement, superiority, and ownership forgetting that they are guests of India.
  • Who owns the lands of Auroville?
    All Auroville assets (land, buildings, machinery, equipment, etc.) are owned by Auroville Foundation, which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1988. Residents living in Auroville Foundation land and in Auroville buildings are expected to act as stewards and ensure that the lands of Auroville are used in accordance with the land use, as envisaged in the Auroville Master Plan. The Secretary, Auroville Foundation also acts as the “Estate Officer” in this regard.
  • Is there private ownership in AV?
    There is no private ownership in Auroville, all residents of Auroville are ‘stewards’ of the apartments, houses or land that they occupy, also of the commercial business they have created and are running, of the farms or forest that they have developed and are managing. Nothing belongs to any individual, all assets are ‘stewarded, protected and managed’ for humanity as a whole. All residents of Auroville have committed to this central aspect of Auroville when they decided to join the project and as Mother as stated in the Auroville charter: “Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.”
  • Are there landbarons in Auroville?
    Auroville is composed of 3,300 residents for 3,300 acres of land. Some ‘stewards’ of have forgotten their original commitment to take care of the land for all of humanity and instead have become ordinary land barons and owners of huge pieces of land that belongs to humanity. Out of this, 48 forest stewards are sitting on 1,100 acres of forest (47 of them being foreigners). This makes for 23 acres per capita. This also explains why they are fighting so ardently to keep status quo and to continue unchecked, as they have been allowed over several decades.
  • Is it that the city will erase all the plantation and green work done so far?
    Out of the 1100 acres of lands owned in the City Area, 312 acres are planted with trees and 89 acres, farmland. Roughly only 50% of the city area will be built upon. Unfortunately some plantation and building has been done illegally over the years in defiance of the Master Plan. Some of this will be removed to allow for the implementation of the City as per the Master Plan. In total roughly 3 million trees have been planted since Auroville’s inception in 1968. Over the years, several trees have been cut or transplanted for various development purposes. New trees are regularly planted. Only in the last 2 months in Auroville, 2000 trees have been planted. In the Darkali area in question, 187 trees will be cut.
  • Does this mean that the Darkali forest will get completely destroyed?
    Not at all. The Crown RoW takes up only 2.73 acres of the entire Darkali area of 36.3 acres. The trees in the remaining 33.57 acres will remain intact The Crown will traverse through a green zone in this area and the Crown Corridor (on both sides of the RoW) will be a planted zone.
  • Will Darkali water catchment be destroyed?
    Not at all, there are many engineering solutions to address water sensitive regions when a road needs to pass over it. The details of the Crown over the water catchment are being currently worked upon by an engineering team appointed by the Auroville Town Development Council. It is to be noted that Auroville will have to collect rain water increasingly in surface ponds and tanks rather than relying on ground water percolation through existing water sheds since ground water extraction is clearly not the way forward.
  • When will the Auroville township be completed?
    The Auroville Master Plan projects a population of 50,000 by 2025. The present population is only about 3,300. The newly appointed Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation plans to accelerate township development so that more people who want to contribute to the realisation of the ideals of Auroville can be welcomed.
  • What is the Crown?
    The Crown is defined in the Auroville Master Plan as follows: “There is another special use zone, which traverses all the four zones in a concentric fashion with a width of 75 meters, consisting of a circular road with buildings facing it. This Crown area will provide most of the service facilities required to support the activities in the four zones mentioned above”. The total Crown RoW (right-of-way) area is only 0.36% of the total master plan land area with a Crown RoW width of 16.7m. The issue at hand is that trees have been planted on land earmarked for the Crown, including the Crown RoW.
  • How much of the Auroville area will the Crown occupy?
    Land area of the main right-of-ways (RoWs) (Crown, 12 radials, International Zone loop road, outer ring, one link road): 1.64% of the total master plan land area; Land area of the Crown RoW: 0.36% of the total master plan area (RoW width of 16.7m assumed).
  • Will Auroville be a green city?
    Auroville will be the only city in the world with a dedicated green belt that is three times the size of its city area, and with green corridors and parks within the city area itself.
  • But cutting trees is bad for the environment, is it not?"
    The removal of trees must be seen in the wider environmental context of Auroville and the region. Assuming that for the remaining part of the Crown RoW (right-of-way) with a width of 16.7m the total number of trees to be cut is 500, this intervention needs to be put in the context of the total number of trees planted elsewhere in Auroville, the CO2 sequestration impact that needs to be compensated for (or has already been compensated for) and other parameters.
  • What are some examples of sustainable development in Auroville that effectively cancel the local negative effect of tree cutting?
    a) New solar PV capacity installed in Auroville during the last two years alone, results in annual CO2 emission reduction equal to what 20,000 trees would absorb. b) In the last 3-4 years alone more than 10,000 trees have been planted. So, if indeed there is a need of cutting 500 trees that have been planted on top of the Crown RoW, CO2 sequestration compensation to the extent of 20 times has already taken place inside Auroville in recent years alone. c) Auroville Foundation owns about 1,100 acres of land outside the Auroville Master Plan area. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted on these lands as well over the years. d) Auroville has demonstrated the use of both stand-alone and grid-connected solar energy. Auroville plans to have a network of solar energy generation and storage systems that are interconnected with an internal grid that is coupled with the State grid. This is indeed the way forward for a sustainable energy future. e) Auroville has made progress with the introduction of e-mobility that will replace the fossil fuel motorcycles and cars that are still used by many of its residents. The master plan road lay-out with a circular inner ring (the “Crown”), 12 radials and an outer ring, allow for sustainable mobility solutions and resilient infrastructure services.
  • Why can’t the Crown just be diverted somewhere else where there are no trees?
    Any 16.7 m RoW, necessary for infrastructure and mobility, would result in some trees getting cut, no matter the shape or route of this corridor. It has indeed been proposed by some to use an existing temporary mud road for mobility and infrastructure instead of the planned Crown RoW, or that the circular RoW can instead “meander” to avoid areas with plantations or structures (built illegally to begin with). Expert studies have shown that this major deviation from the planned circular Crown is an unsustainable way to proceed with the main RoW: not only would we deviate heavily from the Master Plan, but all infrastructure lines, pipes and cables, not to mention roads, will all become about 30% longer in this Crown segment, which would in turn have the following long term consequences: a) For all time to come, 30% more mobility energy will be needed, even if that energy will come from renewable energy sources in the (near) future. b) All cables and pipes will have to be 30% longer on this segment. There will be HT, LT and communication cables, water mains and sub-mains, water recycling pipes etc. in designated service corridors on both sides of the cleared RoWs. c) Increasing the length of electrical cables and water pipes by 30% does not have consequences for the upfront capital cost alone. If the length of a cable is increased by 30%, so will its resistance and energy losses. Therefore, for all times to come, energy losses (and voltage drops) will be 30% higher in this Crown segment. In the case of water, there will be higher pressure losses, which need to be compensated for by higher pumping pressures, which again translates into higher energy consumption. It is therefore concluded that the proposed alternative routing (the temporary road) causes in the long term a significant negative environmental impact in addition to being an unacceptable deviation from the Master Plan. To change the circular layout and logic of this important Master Plan right-of-way is not beneficial in any way for the city development, and is lobbied for only for the benefit of a few interest groups within Auroville.
  • Why were trees planted in areas designated for roads, if the Master Plan is 20 years old?"
    Trees were planted and bunds were built in many places in Auroville to stop erosion. It was clear from the beginning that trees that were planted on land that is not earmarked for trees would have to be cut when township development in a particular area commences. If this principle is now being put into question, the idea of building a township will have to be given up in its entirety, since there are trees everywhere in Auroville. There is a green belt and there are green corridors inside the city. Green work must take place there and not on land designated for roads, infrastructure or other urban development.
  • Will the trees cut be compensated for?
    For every tree cut for the development of the right-of-ways, four new trees will be planted in the dedicated green areas of the Master Plan.
  • Is Auroville as it is today sustainable?
    Presently about 3,300 people are staying on about 3,200 acres of land owned by Auroville Foundation. This can hardly be called “sustainable”. The unsustainable urban sprawl that is Auroville today began as a method of land protection where communities and complexes built were far from each other and did not correspond to a coherent pattern of development. The Crown development would be the first coherent development strategy where new settlements and industries to come can be located in close proximity to this infrastructure corridor. Sustainability needs to be demonstrated with the township of 50,000 persons. Only then Auroville becomes an example for the world.
  • What about CO2 emission reduction?
    Trees alone cannot take care of emission reduction. Trees absorb CO2 and release it again when they die or are burnt. Auroville targets 100% renewable energy and that will avoid CO2 emission to start with.
  • Are the trees that were planted in Auroville of a local species?
    Many of the trees that have been planted are of the acacia auriculiformis species, which was imported from Australia. This tree is a water sucker and should never have been planted to begin with. The Auroville website states the following about this tree: “Some were exotic, like for instance the Australian 'Work Tree' (Mother's name for Acacia auriculiformis) which has adapted so well that it's now crowding out other species. As the trees grew, and micro-climates formed, many species of bird-life and animals returned, further accelerating the dissemination of seeds and enriching the environment”. The trees and other vegetation that have been “crowded out” are local species that belong to the region and that were part of the eco-system.
  • Will the Crown destroy water catchment areas in Darkali?
    Not at all, there are many engineering solutions to address water sensitive regions when a road needs to pass over it. The details of the Crown over the water catchment are being currently worked upon by an engineering team appointed by the Auroville Town Development Council. It is to be noted that Auroville will have to collect rain water increasingly in surface ponds and tanks rather than relying on ground water percolation through existing water sheds
  • Why does Auroville need to speed up its development?
    Auroville needs to accelerate the building of the township as per the Auroville Master Plan and demonstrate integral sustainability already in-built into the plan, which also includes inner growth, economy, education, research and social values as envisaged by the Mother. The township needs to manifest on the basis of the values given in the Charter of Auroville, the document known as the “True Aurovilian” and the Auroville Master Plan which is based on the visionary Galaxy Plan for the township.
  • In 1965, Mother invited Roger Anger to be the chief architect of Auroville"
    In 1965, Mother invited Roger Anger to be the chief architect of Auroville, based on her vision of an ideal town (already envisioned in 1931). Four models were presented to the Mother one after the other and a plan that later became known as the “Galaxy Plan” was approved by the Mother in January 1968.
  • In February 1968, the Mother inaugurated Auroville and the "Galaxy Plan" was presented"
    In February 1968, the Mother read out the Charter of Auroville and Auroville, the City of Dawn, was inaugurated. Youth from 124 different nations and 23 Indian states, deposited a handful of their native soil into an urn at the centre of the Amphitheatre along with the Auroville Charter handwritten in French by the Mother. The model of the Galaxy Plan was part of the inauguration event and on display.
  • In 1969, a first study based on the Galaxy Plan was prepared"
    In 1969, a first study based on the Galaxy Plan, prepared with the approval and in consultation with the Mother, was sent to Ford Foundation for fundraising. This first study remains the basis of Auroville’s master plan development including the Crown details.
  • Between 1969 and 1999, several draft development plans based on the Galaxy plan were made but not much of the city was built"
    Between 1969 and 1999, several draft development plans based on the Galaxy plan were made but not much of the city was built during this period.
  • In 1999, the Resident Assembly approved an Auroville Master Plan"
    In 1999, the Resident Assembly (composed of all adult residents) approved an Auroville Master Plan, which was sent to the Governing Board for its approval. The Governing Board referred the plan to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for review. The end result was the Auroville Universal Township Master Plan (perspective 2025), which was approved by the Governing Board and Government of India (Ministry of HRD) in April 2001. This plan was also notified in part III of the Gazette of India on 16th August 2010.
  • Between 1999 and 2009, many studies were done but the physical realization of the city was very slow."
    Between 1999 and 2009, many studies on mobility, water conservation and infrastructures were done but the physical realization of the city was very slow.
  • In 2008, the Matrimandir was completed"
    In 2008, the Matrimandir was completed (today the Matrimandir gardens are still under construction).
  • In 2009, the building of the Crown started"
    In 2009, the implementation of the Crown (RoW and road) started and 40% of it was built but then the work came to a standstill.
  • In 2011, the Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC) is etablished"
    - In May 2011, the Governing Board established the Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC), composed of Aurovilians, for the planning and development of the Auroville Township in accordance with the notified Auroville Master Plan. The Standing Order by which the ATDC was established in 2011 was replaced by a Standing Order in June 2019. The township development has been very slow bewteen 2011 and 2021.
  • In July 2021, a new impetus to accelerate town development has been given"
    Over the last decade, the township development has been very slow but since July 2021 there is a new impetus from the Auroville Foundation Secretary and the ATDC to accelerate town development, starting with the Crown, and this is welcomed by most Auroville residents.
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