News & Notes 699:FAMC monthly report April 2017

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699 icon.jpg   News & Notes 699
13 May 2017



FAMC monthly report April 2017



At April end, we complete six months as a group that was nominated by the RA with a new mandate. At this time, even as we congratulate ourselves for our achievements, we are acutely aware of the challenges that we face in carrying out our mandate. We have scheduled an internal review and reflection on all aspects of our work in early May. It is hoped that that we can address these challenges together and rise to the occasion.

Completed issues

Trusts

  • Inside Trust: Addition of Dhanya (Mr. Hubertus G. Pater) as trustee was approved. The other trustees are Joster and Bunty.

Units

  • Swagatam Guest House (under Bharat Nivas Trust): Addition of Ms. Tapas Bhatt and Ms. Divya Karun and the resignation of Mr. Elumalai as executives of the unit were approved. The other current executive is Vijaya.
  • Centre Guest House (under Guest House Trust): Reappointment, after initial 2 year term, of Cristina (Ms. Cristina Bacci) and Dodo (Ms. Dorothee Bethscheider) as executives of the unit was approved.
  • Creativity Guest House (under Guest House Trust): Reappointment, after initial 2 yr term, of Ms. Lieve Claes as executive of the unit was approved. The other current executive is Gumsoon.
  • Auroville Institute of Applied Technology (AIAT) (under Auroville Village Action Trust): Resignation of Mr. Michael Harmjanz as executive of the unit was approved. The other current executives are Lavkamad, Karin L., and Juergen P.
  • Auroville Press Publishers (under Artisana Trust): Reappointment, after initial 2 year term, of Mr. Hervé Millet as executive of the unit was approved. The other executives are Christine D. and Alain B.
  • Pragati Constructions (under Kattida Kalai Trust): Reappointment, after initial 2 year term, of Mr. Subrayan Kuppan and Mr. Krishnan Parthasarathy as executives of the unit was approved. The unit was established by office order number 378 dated 9 April 2014. The reappointment was delayed with the ABC during its review of the unit's contributions which were finally confirmed to be up to date.
  • Tamil Heritage Centre (THC) construction: Upon receiving reports of gross financial mismanagement of this Government of India (GoI) funded building project, we initiated a detailed financial review. Our final report of this investigation was reviewed with all stakeholders and discussed with the Secretary of Auroville Foundation. Mr. Chunkath (IAS) recommended that an external forensic audit be carried out, which will soon be done.
In essence, the Auroville unit, Auronirmata, was the official contractor for this project and about Rs. 25 lakhs of project money is unaccounted for. Given the financial mismanagement of the Tamil Heritage Centre construction project and the lack of cooperation from the executives, Dhanapal and Vijaya, in providing the requested financial and other pertinent data related to the project it was decided in consultation with the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation that disciplinary action against Auronirmata was necessary. Auronirmata activities and financial accounts have been suspended until further notice and a public announcement to the community has been made regarding the same.
  • Auroville Water Harvest (AWH): This unit under the Centre for Scientific Research (CSR) Trust had been closed in 2016, but at the request of the Auroville Foundation, the FAMC looked into allegations of assets and data mismanagement that accompanied the closure process. Our final report was reviewed and discussed with the Secretary of Auroville Foundation. The AWH executives and the trustees were informed that they were remiss with regard to: the attempt to collect on bad debt, the manner in which equipment was disposed of, and the lack of documentation of financial processes in general. After dealing this issue, we decided to strengthen the guidelines for unit closures, particularly accounting procedures. No further action is proposed.
  • Auroville Water Service (AWS) (under Auroville Service Trust): As some of the people who were involved in AWH had gone on to work for AWS, we reviewed the work of this unit as well. Our final report was reviewed and discussed with the Secretary of Auroville Foundation. AWS needs to have better accounting processes in place. Other steps to strengthen the management of this unit can also be taken up in consultation with the unit executives and the Auroville Board of Services (ABS); this includes a review of, and changes within, the executive team and holding both Toby and Luca accountable for the mismanagement that was uncovered during the investigation. In the meantime, we have taken steps to ensure proper management of the GOI grant-funded Residential Zone water treatment project being undertaken by AWS, in collaboration with the Auroville Road Service.

L’avenir d’Auroville / interim Town Development Council (iTDC) related

Building application

  • Sustainable Resource Centre building application: After receiving additional information from the project holders, we approved this application.

Loans

  • Conscious Living (under Team Trust): We approved a loan of Rs. 13 lakhs to the unit, Conscious Living to be used for a building extension.
  • Auroville Institute of Applied Technology (AIAT) loan application: AIAT’s loan request for Rs. 10 lakhs was not granted. However, in order for them to more easily manage the flow of their income and expenses, FAMC approved AIAT for an overdraft of Rs. 3 lakhs.
  • Loan request for housing from Greg and Mamata: Upon reviewing the personal financial information provided by Greg and Mamata, we decide not to approve their loan request.

Policies and Guidelines

  • Loan application form: FAMC reviews and decides on loans of over Rs. 5 lakhs, to both individuals and units. To this end, FAMC has formulated a new loan application form.

Land related

Land purchase:
  • BO 40/6B: This land purchase was approved. The plot of 0.67 acres is totally surrounded by Auroville land and is located out past Gaia and Samriddhi.
  • BO 79/5A & BO 79/5B: Purchase of both these plots was approved. Each is 0.47 acres and connected, end to end. These two plots are adjacent to the backside of Sangha.
Land exchange:
  • IR 73/1: At the recommendation of the Land Board, FAMC and Working Committee approved exchange of Auroville land IR 73/1 (.07 acres) IR 179/3 for (.17 acres). This land exchange will consolidate the Auroville greenbelt in the Siddhartha Forest area.
  • Promesse non-residential (1.03 acre) land exchange: Concerns were shared with the Land Board regarding the process of the land exchange and the relationship with the Aurovilian residents. The Land Board proposed to create an alternate access to the exchanged plot and make a proper fence between it and the Promesse residential area. The FAMC offered to facilitate the communication between Promesse residents and the Land Board.
Stewardship:
  • Pitchandikulam Forest: Pitchandikulam Forest’s request for stewardship of various plots near Pitchandikulam, agreed to by the Forest Group, Green Group and iTDC, was approved by FAMC.
  • Fertile Field: Jana’s and Jan’s request for stewardship of various plots near Fertile Field. Request, agreed to by the Forest Group, Green Group and iTDC, was approved by FAMC.

Miscellaneous

  • Asset registry: We have compiled, to the best of our ability, a list of land and assets under non-Aurovilian usage. There were only a few cases which needed to be followed up on. Auroville Foundation and Working Committee have been duly informed.
  • FAMC secretariat: We made a call out for additional secretarial support. We reviewed all the applications we received and unanimously chose Ayesha. She will join us on a half-time basis from mid-June onwards. She’ll be supporting the whole team while working primarily with Angelo, the other secretary and Amy, full-time FAMC member.
  • GoI grant subgroup overdraft request: The GoI grant subgroup requested a Rs. 3 crore overdraft on GoI grants. This is a continuation of an earlier approved overdraft. This was agreed to as it will help facilitate proper utilization of funds and timely completion of GOI projects.

Ongoing issues

Units

  • Auroservice d’Auroville (under Auroville Service Trust) new unit application: We have received an application to approve this activity to be registered as a unit. The proposed executives are Luigi and Pashi. The activities have been listed as: “To create a knowledge centre at the service of Auroville to study, research and promote activities in the fields of: Urban Architecture, Rural-Urban Agro-Forestry, Revitalization of soil fertilization, Urban Retrofitting, Green Infrastructure, Sustainable Energy, Socio-economic studies, etc. etc.” The FAMC has requested and received input from L’avenir about this stated purpose, and their working relationship. The FAMC is still reviewing the stated purpose and its relationship with current town planning and development activities. The unit application remains pending.

Policies and Guidelines

  • Commercial vs. Service policy discussion: In a bid to do away with the arbitrary division of units into commercial and service units, FAMC is working on having a new uniform policy for all income-generating activities.

Miscellaneous

  • Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) substation: FAMC, in collaboration with the Working Committee, iTDC, and Auroville Electric Service, is working to expedite the long-pending issue of identifying a location where TNEB can erect a substation, which provides an additional connection point into our internal High Tension setup. The exploration is ongoing and includes talks with the Office of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation.
  • Budget Coordination Committee (BCC) mandate & constitution: We have undertaken a review of the work and constitution of the BCC as per the FAMC mandate. Work on this is ongoing.
  • Review of the development of Far Beach (Sri Ma): Two years ago, Tanto executives Daniel, Paul and Sheril had signed a letter of agreement with the FAMC regarding the development of guest facilities at Sri Ma, also known as Far Beach. As stated in this agreement, there would be an annual report of the project provided to the FAMC. Daniel invited the FAMC members for a site visit as part of the annual reporting. During the site visit Daniel requested changes to the existing agreement; he has been asked to submit the same in writing for FAMC consideration.


FAMC (Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Stephanie, Ulli, Yuval)