News & Notes 750:Report Working Committee over the month of May 2018

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750 icon.jpg   News & Notes 750
9 June 2018


Report Working Committee over the month of May 2018


The Working Committee was incomplete part of this month due to the holidays of three of its members. The main issues dealt with in this period are:

1) Visits New Delhi.
From May 1st to 5th 2018, Carel, Frederick, François and Jayendra went to New Delhi to meet with various officials of the Government of India and Supreme Court lawyers.

A) Ministry of Home Affairs. Two meetings were held, one with the hon'ble Home Secretary and his staff and another with the Director Policy. This visit was followed up by a visit of two Directors of the Home Ministry, the FRRO and the RRO to Auroville on May 18th. Topics discussed:
a) List of 187 people who have been given 5-year Stay Visa and Residential permits in the past, though they entered India on a visa issued for a lesser period: is with the Home Ministry and decisions can be expected soon.
b) 12 Individual cases.
c) Tourist-visa holders visiting Auroville and wishing to participate in a course or workshop or give a flute concert: after proper intimation is given to the RRO, can be permitted. In this context it was observed that the process of E-Visa application allows for the ticking of all boxes (reasons for wishing to obtain a visa) so that the visa holder can inform the RRO that attending a workshop etc., was their intention when applying for a visa.
d) People returning with 1-year visa though Sec. has given recommendation for 5 years: In these cases, the RRO Pondicherry may issue a Stay Visa for 5-year validity subject to a recommendation from the Sec.
e) Birth certificate and passports: It was agreed that an intimation of the birth of a child given within 2 weeks from the date of birth will be deemed as proper intimation and no fine will be levied. However, the birth certificate has to be submitted within 2 months of time frame. It was understood that some foreign missions take some time before issuing a passport for a child.
f) On-line registration. The Residents Service would like to inform all foreign nationality residents of Auroville that from now on all registrations with the Indian Government (RRO) are exclusively online (https://indianfrro.gov.in/eservices/).
This means that individuals no longer need to go to the RRO, except if requested, as all communication and payment will be done online.
Every person who has to register a new visa or request for a visa extension, has to create his or her own registration, and log in using an individually created password and then to fill-in the online form and attach the requested documents.
The Residents' Service will be of assistance to scan and upload the documents and photos and will help file the application online.
B) Finance Ministry. A meeting was held with the JS TRU II, Tax Research Unit to follow up on Auroville's request for partial relief from GST.
C) Supreme Court lawyers Parekh & Co. The meeting was organised to discuss the beach protection strategy and how to obtain permission to put up protective measures at Auroville beaches. This meeting was followed up with a meeting with High Court lawyer K. Srinivasan in Chennai and documents are being drawn up to obtain relief from the Chennai High Court.

2) Visa issues

a) Refusal of Entry into India
In the beginning of June an Aurovilian was initially refused Entry into India because he had participated in an exhibition outside Auroville for commercial purposes. The matter was resolved thanks to the intervention of Mr. Srinivasmurty, and the person was allowed to enter India subject to the signing of a statement.
We remind all foreign origin Aurovilians that their visa is given to live in and work for Auroville, and not for any other purpose.
Individual participation in shows outside Auroville is not permitted; participation as a unit representative is allowed.
b) Checking on papers.
All guesthouses and homestay executives have been informed that, in case representatives of the RRO visit them, they have to be given a list of the foreigners and their passport and visa details residing in the guesthouse or homestay.
Those who organise learning activities are requested to hand over the list of foreigners and their passport and visa details attending workshops if requested by representatives of the RRO.
c) Attending workshops elsewhere in India
A person who was attending a yoga workshop in Pondicherry was informed by the RRO representative that this is not possible on an Entry Visa issued for Auroville. We consider this a too narrow interpretation of the Auroville Visa Policy and have taken the matter up with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

3) Pondicherry bypass road through the Greenbelt.
Markings left by a consultant working for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) revealed that plans are afoot to design a 4-lane National Highway from Ayyur near Vilianur to the north of Kalapet before the toll gate. This road would cross the Auroville Green Belt for a length of 3.5 kilometres through the Forecomers, Pitchandikulam and Aurogreen areas and destroy decades of work, much of the Auroville Greenbelt, and come too close to city area. The matter was discussed with the NHAI director in Chennai as well as with the consultant, in the presence of members of the Working Committee, FAMC and Joss and Tine, and alternative solutions were proposed. The matter will be followed up with the members of the Governing Board and the Ministry in New Delhi.

4) Secretarial issues
The secretary of the Working Committee is receiving an increasing number of requests for certificates and certification of documents. We would like to inform all residents that only in very exceptional cases will those requests be dealt with immediately in view of the pending workload. Please submit your request one day in advance, to be picked up the next day or later as indicated by the secretary.

5) Land purchase problems
The Working Committee jointly with the FAMC are working with the Land Board to resolve the issue of the contested purchase of a large plot of land in the Greenbelt area of Auroville; we are also jointly investigating if the former Land Board members and its legal advisor have done due diligence in the purchase of this plot of land. The matter has been submitted to a lawyer employed by the Working Committee.

6) Congratulations Sir Mark Tully
On May 18, 2018, Sir William Mark Tully, who has served 12 years as Chairman of the Auroville International Advisory Council, received the RedInk Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mumbai Press Club. On behalf of the community of Auroville, we have congratulated Sir Mark with this award.

7) Chicanes
We received a complaint about the dangers of the 'chicanes' – 10 centimetres high road dividers – which have been installed at various places on the roads. The Working Committee agrees that the chicanes do not contribute to road safety and can be dangerous if someone is forced to cross them due to traffic circumstances, and has asked L'Avenir d'Auroville to remove them.


The Working Committee
Carel, Hemant, Inge, Mandakini, Partha, Ranjith, Sauro