News & Notes 638:Response to the open letter by the Kottakarai Village
Response to the open letter by the Kottakarai Village
To: the Auroville community
From: the Working Committee and the Land Board
An anonymous letter has been distributed to residents of Auroville, supposedly representing Kottakarai village. This letter misrepresents facts, spreads lies and defames some members of the Land Board and the Working Committee.
It is important to understand that this letter does not represent the entire Kottakarai Village. This letter is the latest attempt to further the personal interests of one small faction.
The very first sentence which says that we are building a wall ‘around’ Kottakarai Village shows that the letter is nothing more than an attempt to use PR measures, when violence and heavy-handedness have failed thanks to the intervention by the police. The compound wall we have built on Auroville Foundation land has a length of 400 meters as opposed to the circumference of the village which is about 4 km.
Contrary to the statement that no encroachment has taken place, the fact is that over the last few years we have lost around 2 acres of very valuable land. Apart from the financial aspects, the more important consideration is that these are key pieces inside the Auroville Masterplan area. Once encroached, there is no way to regain control over this land in the future.
During the construction of the wall we have negotiated every meter with the people who have built their houses either on peromboke land or on Auroville land. From the beginning, it was clear that we would accept the existing status quo and not try to demolish structures on our land. Instead we moved back voluntarily in order to allow the work to proceed peacefully. The Neem trees mentioned, which we have cut, were on our land and had to be cut because we had to move back in order to accommodate encroachment.
The private developer mentioned in the letter had started to plot his land crossing the Crown Road next to Surrender, as an act of provocation to force negotiations to go his way. As per the law we have provided access for agricultural use. The fact that the personal interests of this developer, who is not connected with Kottakarai, are taken up by these people show clearly that the roots of the present conflict lie elsewhere and are not at all connected with the compound wall we are constructing. At this point it should be mentioned that Auroville has had many previous conflicts with the same group of people. They tried to interfere when we had labour conflicts at Matrimandir; and they successfully managed to prevent the implementation of the Mangalam project on Auroville land.
The Working Committee filed an FIR against unabated violence and vandalism, to which some people responded aggressively. The officers then arrested a few people when the police was being prevented from removing the roadblocks.
For obvious reasons it is very important that at this point Aurovilians should refrain from making individual and public statements in this matter. Individual members of the Working Committee and Land Board have stood up to protect and maintain the safety of Auroville residents and assets of the Auroville Foundation and some continue to be subjected to insults and threats of violence against them or their houses. We call on the community to support the groups mandated to deal with such situations with trust and goodwill.