News & Notes 702:FAMC Monthly Report ‒ May 2017

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702 icon.jpg   News & Notes 702
17 June 2017


FAMC Monthly Report ‒ May 2017



It has been a tumultuous summer so far: we are faced with challenges in our internal processes while discovering new opportunities at the same time. Stephanie has resigned as a member from June 1st. However, we are happy to share that she will be available to continue to help us as a resource person. We are sorry to see her go for, during her tenure, she took up and helped to resolve many complex issues. She duly gave her one-month notice before stepping down, and we have informed the Residents Assembly Service (RAS) of her resignation, as per our mandate.

Given the loss of one member and also being cognizant of the fact that the end of April marked 6 months as the “new FAMC,” we decided to have a thorough reflection and review of our work and experience, especially in light of executing a new mandate. This 5-week process, facilitated by Elvira, sometimes also with Joerg, will continue till June 15.

Completed issues

Units

  • Conscious Living: The executives’ request to move from Team Trust to Artisana Trust was endorsed by the trustees of both Trusts and by the ABC support group. We agreed to this change.
  • Gecko! (Aurosarjan Trust): The executive reappointment of Mr. Paneerselvam Venugopal, after an initial 2-year term, was approved. The other executive is Mr. Stephan Himmer.
  • Pharmacy of the Auroville Health Centre (Artisana Trust): The executive reappointment of Ms. Lili Achram ep Desplanque, after an initial 2-year term, was approved. The other executives are Ms. Uma Tewari Sharma and Ms. Hilde d’Heidt.
  • Mohanam (Auroville Village Action Trust): Requests for better operational processes made by the FAMC to Balu (as an executive of Mohanam, Lively, and the proposed Bamboo Center Auroville) have been agreed upon and are in process of being implemented.

L’avenir d’Auroville / iTDC related

Site applications:

  • Kalpana Sports Centre: Provisional site application was granted. Project holders Satyakam and Devasmita, as well as their close collaborator Lila, have been asked to provide more details regarding the project before they submit an application for building permission.
  • Surya Power Plant (first phase): This planned solar power plant is proposed to be built entirely on land owned by Aditi Diamonds (Michael Bonke, Director) in the Industrial Zone area. The footprint on the ground is proposed to be identical to an envisioned Line of Force building, with the idea being that if and when the Line of Force is constructed, the solar panels will be moved to the roof. Electricity generated by this centralized power plant will be fed to the grid. There were strong opinions expressed about this proposal, but it was recognized that renewable energy for meeting the energy needs of the community is a good thing. It was decided to ask Michael Bonke to take the necessary legal steps to ensure that upon his passing, the land will be bequeathed to Auroville and legally transferred to the Auroville Foundation. This request has been made to the project holders, Mitra Auroville and Varuna Auroville. The project holders were also requested to consider providing funds for regreening in another location, as many trees will need to be cut to clear the site. Site application approval is pending.

Loans

  • Sunship housing project construction loan: The Sunship team requested a construction loan of Rs. 1.83 crores. It was stated that the loan is needed to handle a cash flow problem as some future stewards were unable to immediately provide the funds for construction of the apartments. We felt that to grant such a loan would create an unsustainable precedent for future housing projects, so it was decided not to approve the request. To address the problem, we suggested to the project holders that the individuals concerned could approach the Housing Service/Board for a housing loan.

Land related

Protection:

  • Martuvam Healing Forest fencing: A few FAMC members visited Martuvam and agreed with the steward, Shivaraj, about the need to fence the plot due to a serious threat of encroachment. We have informed the Forest Group and requested the Land Board for funds for the same.

Miscellaneous

  • City Service individual contribution waiver request from Dr. Kumar (veterinarian): We received a request to review a decision by the Human Resources Team (HRT) to not grant an individual contribution waiver for Dr. Kumar. After considering his overall situation, we have asked HRT to provide a 6-month waiver to Dr. Kumar. We also recommended forming a support group for Dr. Kumar, with the help of the Auroville Council, to help him develop a sound financial strategy for his veterinary activities.
  • Non-compliance workshop: A workshop on non-compliance of Aurovilians with decisions of the working groups or the guidelines of Auroville was held with representatives from all working groups on 13/05 (iTDC was unable to attend). It was agreed that a follow-up session on the issue was necessary, but no definite plan was agreed to. A report on this first workshop was separately published by us in the News & Notes as well as on the Auronet.
  • Vikram as FAMC silent listener: Vikram (Gaia) offered to be a silent listener during our meetings. We decided to postpone a decision regarding this offer until we have completed our internal reflection and review. We have communicated this to Vikram.
  • FAMC Loan Group representative: Given Stephanie’s resignation Amy will join the Loan Group as the FAMC representative.
  • FAMC representative or nominee in the Government of India (GoI) Grant Monitoring Group: Given Stephanie’s resignation Bindu will join the GoI Grant Monitoring Group as the FAMC representative.

Ongoing issues

Activities

  • Martuvam Healing Forest home stay application: We have asked the Guest Facilities Coordination Group (GFCG) to visit Martuvam and make their recommendation about this application. At the end of this reporting period we were still waiting to hear from GFCG. The application remains pending.

Units

  • Auroville Transport Service (ATS): Final closure of this unit has been delayed due to unresolved questions on how best to transfer ATS assets as there are many stakeholders who are interested in the assets and in the use of the leased land. Pending financial claims have also been made by three drivers and one supplier. These claims are in process of being verified, if possible.
Some community members have criticized our actions; however we believe it is our responsibility, as the FAMC, to minimize our liability, taking into consideration individual actions and needs as well as the good name and well-being of the community as a whole. It may be noted that about three years ago, the previous FAMC had strongly recommended for the unit to be closed due to high outstanding liabilities and a practically impossible plan for repayment. It was on Saroja’s, one of the executives, adamant insistence that FAMC reluctantly agreed to give her a chance to improve the financial stability and viability of the unit, with the unfortunate consequence that ATS has even higher debts to pay off now. FAMC members and the Trustees (ABC Trust) continue to work to resolve this issue.
  • Hers (Kattida Kalai Trust): The ABC has endorsed the executive reappointment of Mr. M. Palani after an initial 2-year term. The other executive is Ms. Gillian Chvat. We decided that we would like to see a report regarding the unit finances and assets since the change of management and also seek clarification about the renovations that have been undertaken and the managerial roles played by Kumar, Roy, and Thulasi at HERS. The reappointment of Palani is pending till we receive this report.
  • Auroservice d’Auroville: This is a proposed new service unit under Auroville Service Trust with Mr. Pashi Kapur and Mr. Luigi Zanzi as executives. Based upon feedback received from the iTDC, who perceive overlapping of roles between Auroservice and the iTDC and unclarity regarding the framework of relationship between them, we decided to keep the application pending until the constitution of the new TDC. Pashi and Luigi were informed.
  • Inside India (Inside Trust): Following a letter with allegations against Inside India from Bunty, trustee of Inside Trust, a subgroup of FAMC looked into the accounts and duly submitted a report of their findings. There were some irregularities in accounting procedures and claimed expenses, which as of today is still being contested by Joster, one of the unit executives.
  • Auroville Water Service (AWS) (Auroville Service Trust): As this is a core service for Auroville, a FAMC sub-group is engaged in looking for Aurovilians who can join this unit as executives, managers / supervisors, and accountants. Ursula (BCC and Financial Service) has agreed to oversee payments from the account for 2.5 months this summer when Luca, executive, is temporarily out of station (TOS).
  • Mukti Accounting (Auroville Service Trust): When investigating into the financial mismanagement of Auroville Water Service (AWS) we determined that Mukti Accounting, as the unit accountant, is to be held partly responsible for the financial mismanagement. In particular, it was determined an accountant employed by Mukti Accounting, Mr. Padmanabhan, had made serious mistakes in handling the accounts of AWS. We are following up the issue with Kumar (Aspiration), the primary, active executive of Mukti Accounting.

Housing

  • Housing asset monetization and valuation review: We discussed the topic of monetization of housing assets and the processes of housing asset evaluation with Housing Board / Housing Service representatives, with a view towards formulating better practices. It has been proposed that when a housing asset becomes available due to the steward passing, or leaving Auroville, the asset could be transferred without a request for a stewardship donation (i.e. on a pro bono basis). In response to this proposal the Housing Board sent us a list of a few housing assets from Aurovilians who had passed that were not monetized and were transferred to individual Aurovilians for stewardship or were renovated for a collective use. The Housing Board is continuing the process of coming up with better norms for evaluation of housing assets.
  • House stewards who are long out of station: The Housing Service (HS) has forwarded to us a list of housing assets with stewards who are long out of station. Some of these have house-sitters, with and without house-sitting agreements, and some do not. The HS requested our guidance on the best way to handle these situations. It was agreed that these need to be looked at individually and considered case-by-case. Chandresh volunteered to help the HS follow up on them.

Miscellaneous

  • Budget Coordination Committee (BCC) mandate and reconstitution: As per our mandate we have started the process, in collaboration with the BCC, to review its constitution and mandate.


In community,

Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Ulli, and Yuval (Members); Angelo (Secretary), Auralice (Chairperson) ‒ FAMC