News & Notes 683:Report of the Land Protection workshops – Call for Community Feedback

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683 icon.jpg   News & Notes 683
21 January 2017

Report of the Land Protection workshops – Call for Community Feedback

Workshop 10-11 December 2016 and 07 January 2017, Unity Pavilion
This workshop was attended by about 120 people, and consisted of 3 full morning sessions as well as a series of 4 meetings attended by a Core Group of workshop participants, to investigate the options further and prepare a set of recommendations to be presented on the 3rd Workshop day.

Workshop Day 1: The object of the Workshop was introduced with the following questions: “Do we need statutory protection for the Auroville area” and “What are we protecting against?” An illustrated presentation on the topic of ‘Ground Realities’ exposing the real estate pressure within the master plan area followed. The participants were then asked to share their concerns and their dreams relating to the lands of the Auroville area. During these sessions, there was a noticeable concurrence between the responses worded in different ways by the participants. Resistance was expressed to the idea of guiding decision-making by fear. Many participants expressed enthusiasm about ‘getting our act together’ and for measures that could be implemented by residents internally and in collaboration with private land-owners and the surrounding villages.

Workshop Day 2: Participants were introduced to the legal structure regulating land use and administration in Tamil Nadu, then followed presentations and Questions and Answers on each of the proposed approaches for land protection circulated to the participants before the workshop. These options were:

a) Creation of a unique statutory land regulation framework for Auroville, tailor-made to the uniqueness of the project (presented by Lata and Suhasini). This would involve seeking a new act to be passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly)
b) Revival of an Amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act that had been submitted to local authorities in 2009;
c) Formation of a New Town Development Authority (NTDA) for the Auroville area, constituted with the sole purpose of protecting the Master Plan of Auroville and the Aims and Ideals given by the Mother for the development of Auroville (presented by the NTDA task force members and Toine);
d) To remain under the existing statutory regulations in force in the area until the existing Master Plan can be supplemented by a detailed Land Use Schedule and accompanying Detailed Development Plans commissioned by the Residents Assembly, created in consultation with the Community of Auroville and approved by the RA and the Governing Board, while actively pursuing all possibilities for non-statutory protection of the land, such as Land Purchase, increased collaboration with local authorities and accelerated growth of all aspects of Auroville, such as population, economy, education etc. (presented by Shraddhavan).

It was agreed by the participants that a Core Group should be formed to summarise these proposals and to prepare recommendations for a way forward to be presented on Workshop Day 3. The following people volunteered as members of the Core Group: Bertrand, Carel, Dorle, Elisa, Lata, Mandakini, Martin L., Pashi, Patrick, Paul V., Peter A., Rishi, Sauro, Shraddhavan, Suhasini, Toine. (At some meetings, Patrick was replaced by Navroz).

Core Group meetings: the members met on 13/12, 20/12, 27/12 and 03/01/17 and arrived at the conclusion that various options put forward were not incompatible and all worth further exploration. On 20/12 Mr. Chunkath joined the group to answer questions on the NTDA option. After closely examining each of the Options, and formulating a set of criteria, recommendations were agreed on for presentation to the participants on Workshop Day 3.

Workshop Day 3: in the presence of Mr Chunkath, all the aforementioned options were presented and followed by questions from the Participants to the Core Group members. The following recommendations and criteria were then presented, and approved by the gathering.

MOVING FORWARD: A: Organisational structure

  • The Core Group recommends that the NTDA task force be merged into a new team for Land Protection* granting further discussions with the local authorities.
  • That the team for land protection* should be created to further the recommendations of the workshop participants
  • The team for land protection will be open to RA members willing to commit to the process and will report and work under the guidance of the Working Committee, the TDC and the Auroville Council
  • The team for land protection will work to determine the feasibility of the proposals brought forth during the workshop
  • The team for land protection will bring its findings to a Residents Assembly meeting within 3 months for further consideration

Criteria to be used for inquiry
The proposal should:

  • Respect and promote the fundamental principles laid out by The Mother for the development and organisation of Auroville
  • Protect the ability of the Auroville residents to make their own planning decisions in accordance with the Charter and the vision of The Mother for Auroville
  • Protect Auroville’s environmental values and promote sustainable biological diversity
  • Encourage sustainable development based on social, environmental and economic equity in harmonious coexistence with the local villages and local administrative bodies
  • Assure a solid and durable protection for the land needed to develop the Auroville township
  • Be operational within a “realistic time frame”

Your feedback may be sent to the RAS at:
raservice (at)
within 2 weeks from the date of publication of this News & Notes.

The Core Group - on behalf of Working Committee, L’avenir, and Auroville Council.

* The words “Statutory Land Regulation” were used at the workshop; however on reflection the team revised this to “Land Protection” in order to include all the options presented.