News & Notes 682:Working Committee report December 2016

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682 icon.jpg   News & Notes 682
14 January 2017

Working Committee report December 2016

The main issues dealt with in December have been the following:

Visit New Delhi

On behalf of the Working Committee, Hemant visited the HRD Ministry in New Delhi to follow up on the payment of the 3rd and last instalment of the GOI grant (meanwhile received), the Humanscapes housing project (pending), the request for financial support for the 50th anniversary celebrations (pending), and to seek information on the appointment of the remaining members of the Governing Board (pending). It is as yet unclear if the Governing Board and International Advisory Council will meet by the end of February in Auroville.

GOI grant 2016-2017

We are happy to announce that this year we have received the full GOI grant. We would like to thank the FAMC for allowing a credit line so that all projects could start spending the approved allocated budgets immediately, in anticipation of the release of GOI grant instalment. We are grateful that the Governing Board has authorised us to re-allocate funds to other approved projects in case earlier approved projects could not spend the allocated amounts due to unforeseen circumstances and also would like to thank Mr. Chunkath and Mr. Srinivasmurty for their pro-active follow up.

Matrimandir access team

We wish to express our appreciation and gratitude for the remarkable way the members of the Matrimandir Access Team have been handling the ever increasing number of visitors to the Matrimandir in the recent months. We have been informed that the guests have been received in an exemplary manner.

Regularising development within the Auroville Master Plan Area

In December, two half-day workshops have taken place to study how Auroville can be protected from unregulated developments in contradiction to the Auroville Master Plan. After the first two meetings, a core group has come together which has met weekly to further discuss the possible ways forward. The report of this core group, including the many differing and sometimes opposing views that have been expressed, was discussed in a third half-day workshop on January 7th. The core-group will report on the outcome of this workshop separately. This publication will be followed by a two-week period to allow for observations and or objections on the proposed way forward.

The Working Committee wishes to express its gratitude to Sheba and newcomer Manas for their able facilitation of the workshops and meetings of the core group.

Land stewardship dispute

Jointly with the Auroville Council and representatives of the Forest Group, the Working Committee has resolved a dispute about the stewardship of a plot of land in the Greenbelt. In accordance with the ‘Land Allocation Process in the Greenbelt’ agreement of July 2015 between the TDC, Green Group and FAMC, the FAMC and TDC have now been requested to approve the agreed upon changes of the land stewardship.

Visa issues

A number of visa issues have been brought to the attention of the Working Committee. Some of these deal with the refusal of an Indian Consulate to issue the requested visa, others have their origin in local circumstances. For reasons of privacy, we cannot publish the names or issues of the individuals involved. The matters are all taken up with the local authorities and authorities in New Delhi.

Accounting standards

Jointly with members of the FAMC, the Working Committee has had discussions with a Chartered Accountant about the manner in which Auroville units and trusts could improve their system of accounting, also in view of the upcoming GST, a Value added Tax (VAT) which will be levied on the manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. The GST will replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and State governments, and will most probably be linked to the PAN number of the Foundation. The discussions are as yet inconclusive.

Village Heritage Centre, Alankuppam

At the request of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, a meeting took place with representatives of the TDC, ABC, Working Committee and Mohanam to define the activities of the proposed Village Heritage Centre, to be set-up by Mohanam on Auroville land nearby Alankuppam. The Village Heritage Centre is a 96 lakhs project sponsored by the Government of Puducherry and Ille-et-Vilaine, a County Council in France, to promote Rural Tourism Development at Puducherry.

It was agreed that the project will contain a Craft Training Centre, a Cultural Centre, a plaza, a dance veranda, a music veranda, an amphitheatre, a village pond, and an exhibition space but will not host any commercial activities or shop outlet. These may be added in a later phase of the project.

The project was inaugurated on January 2nd, 2017 by the Hon’ble Revenue and Industries Minister of Puducherry, Thiru M.O.H.F. Shahjahan in the presence of Thiru Shri. Malladi Krishna Rao, the Hon'ble Tourism Minister, Thiru B. R. Babu, I.A.S. Secretary to Govt. (Tourism), Thiru. R. Mounissamy, Director of Tourism, and the Secretary Auroville Foundation.

Meeting with Collector and Superintendent Police, Villupuram District

At the invitation of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, the Collector and his staff and the Superintendent of Police, Villupuram District, visited Auroville and interacted with members of the Security Service, the Land Board and the Working Committee. Main topics of discussion were:

a) Land Issues: Cases of land grabbing, illegal construction, obstruction during fencing and fraudulent papers detected for some of our lands were discussed. The SP informed that an anti-land grabbing cell is active where all fraud related matters can be registered.
b) Road situation in front of the Auroville bakery in Kuilapalayam. The Collector was informed about the dangerous situation developing there due to potholes and many people parking outside the bakery and a request was made that the road be improved.
c) Location of the Sustainable Livelihood Institute. An alternative location for an office was discussed, which needs the approval of the Collector as the building in question has been given on lease to an NGO for activities which are no longer happening.
d) Beach land erosion of land around Repos and Quiet and support was requested to help with short-term measures.
e) Security arrangements on New Year Eve security arrangements and in general were discussed; the SP offered extra help.
f) Birth and Death certificates. Help was requested for the expeditious issuance of birth and death certificates.

Pandora’s Box festival

We would like to express our gratitude to Vikram Ram who agreed to move his Pandora’s Box New Year’s Eve festival from Alankuppam to Paradise Beach, south of Pondicherry. We were concerned about the original location, as these types of celebrations, especially on New Year's Eve, inevitably increase traffic and safety and security issues in the area including within Auroville. As any possible negative fall-out would be attributed to Auroville, even though this was not an Auroville event, we had advised our units and services not to participate.

Mental and Emotional Health update

In the month of December, a pilot group for Emotional and Mental Health in Auroville was set-up. This group consists of ten members in total: Jerry B, Sigrid L, Fif L, Siegrun, Barbara, Rita E, Srijita R, Moghan, Linda-Grace, and Palani with Inge v.A (Wcom) and Sandyra (AVC) as support. The group met twice, and is now busy working and reflecting on the scope of the EMH Group, the roles and responsibilities of each of the members, a proposal for announcement to the community, forming a core group which will take up coordination, overview and responsibility, administrative support, budget needs, and others. The Working Committee will keep the community updated in subsequent reports.

Sea Erosion Management

In light of the two proposals currently on the table (Pondicherry Beach Restoration Project (PBRP) and Groyne extension) besides allowing short-term work to continue on Auroville beaches, the Collector, during his visit to Auroville mentioned above, was also asked to ensure that Auroville is involved in the case it is decided to build any number of groynes that would impact Auroville beaches. Furthermore, the Collector was informed about the role of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in the PBRP so that collaboration can take place and to have a better overview of the long-run impact of both projects. The Working Committee thanks Aurofilio Schiavina and Jan Imhoff for their input and work in bringing up-to-date information and for compiling the relevant information.


Because the service is presently experiencing some challenges, together with the Auroville Council, FAMC and ABS, the Working Committee is looking into strengthening and/or restructuring Auroville Health Services. Since this effort is in its early days, the next report will shed more light.

Concerns about new Entry Policy

The ETG continues to inform and update the community on behalf of the Working Committee and the Auroville Council. Please follow their publications for updates and participation.

Pending issues

a) New Executives Matrimandir
b) Auroville Child Development new executives
c) Mobility

Working Committee