News & Notes 664:Report of the Working Committee for August 2016

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664 icon.jpg   News & Notes 664
10 September 2016

Report of the Working Committee for August 2016

1) General Meeting. On Tuesday, 9th August, the Working Committee gave a report on its work in a General meeting at the Unity Pavilion. The participation was limited (not more than 30 Aurovilians were present) but the debate was quite fruitful with the Working Committee extensively answering questions and addressing concerns.

2) Upcoming meeting of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council. The Working Committee made the agenda and did the necessary work for the preparation of these meetings which will take place from September 7-9th. The community has been invited for a farewell, as this will be the last meeting of these members of the Governing Board as their term of office ends on October 13.

3) Delhi visit. Carel on behalf of the Working Committee together with Frederick paid a visit to New Delhi where they were given the opportunity to briefly meet with the hon’ble HRD Minister and with various HRD officials, as well as with of officials of the Home Ministry. They also met with GB chairman Dr. Karan Singh, GB member Ms. Ameeta Mehra and IAC Chairman Sir Mark Tully. Topics of discussion at HRD were the 50th anniversary celebration budget, the Auroville budget for the next financial year, the request for funds for the Humanscapes and Green Campus projects, and the progress in the approval of the amendment of the Rules of the Auroville Foundation, the Regulations for Entry & Exit and the permission for the sale of lands, all of which are still pending. Topics discussed at the Home Ministry were the pending visa cases.

4) Entry Service. Together with the Auroville Council, it was decided on starting a process to select new members for the Entry Service. A half-day "team-building" workshop was held on the 3rd of September.

5) International Zone. Following complaints, we have obtained a clarification from the TDC on the functioning of the International Zone Coordination Group (IZCG) and the existence of an approved plan for the International Zone. The TDC informed that the IZCG is not constituted by the TDC and that it has no role in the Zone’s planning and development and no authority to give site allocations, which is the function of the TDC. The IZCG is a group of individuals who, concerned with the pavilions and the development of the international zone, work to conceptualize the international zone, its spirit and the activities that should take place there. The TDC and the previous L'avenir and Development Groups have been used to get the feed-back of the IZ groups operating from time to time when a building permission is made to find out-whether the proposed project is within the spirit and the frame of the manifestation of the International Zone. Regarding the plan for the Zone, the TDC informed that L'avenir d'Auroville has approved in 2009/10 a plan for development of the International Zone. This plan will be further prepared once the nature of the activities in the international zone will be more clearly defined by the stakeholders.

6) Legal clarification on role of GB and RA. The Working Committee has obtained a legal clarification of the role of the Residents’ Assembly vis-à-vis the Governing Board from eminent jurist Shri Fai Nariman. The issue had come up with regards to the Town Development Council (TDC). The Board, in its last two meetings, had expressed concern over the functioning of the TDC and had instructed the Working Committee to reconstitute it. We questioned if the TDC should be reconstituted as a committee of the Governing Board (which it is at present) or, instead, as a committee of the Residents’ Assembly. The opinion sheds new light on the role of both authorities of the Auroville Foundation and that of the third authority, the International Advisory Council. As the opinion is too long to be published here, it can be found on Auronet.

7) Protecting the lands. After filing an FIR against a person who behaved aggressively towards the steward of NewLands and who has been cutting and taking wood from Auroville land and who afterwards was detained by the police, a large group of people from Kuilapalayam met with representatives of the Working Committee and Land Board at the Town Hall to voice their objections. The Working Committee’s response was done in consultation with the Secretary. No mutually acceptable solution has been found.

8) Meeting on village relationships. The Working Committee organized a meeting on improving Auroville’s interaction with the surrounding villages and on building a more trustful relation. The meeting, attended by representatives of the Working Committee, Auroville Council, FAMC, AVAG, the Land Board and AVF Secretary Mr. Chunkath, was facilitated by Koodam. More meetings on the topic will be organized in the next few months, with the aim to harmonize and unify the views of the various Auroville working groups and to plan a common approach.

9) Loss of income. We received a complaint from the BCC that Auroville is suffering from a permanent loss of income from commercial units who believe that the contribution of a minimum of 33% is optional. The BCC has not been able to convince some of them to pay their arrears. The loss is estimated at Rs.1.2 crores for the period 2010-15. As a result, the City Services will be in negative from October 2016 to March 2017. The BCC asked us to examine this issue and take the necessary steps ‘within our prerogative as a statutory body’.

We replied that, at a first view, this matter seems to fall under the purview of the FAMC but that we are ready to take up the matter with the FAMC. We requested the BCC to send us an excel sheet with the data of the defaulting units. The BCC subsequently refrained from sharing the data ‘as it may create more confusion’ and decided that the matter for the time being be handled by itself and the FAMC. Detailed reasons for not sharing the data have not been given.

10) Dimitry Guyar, French citizen, has been declared unwelcome in our community since he has proved himself to be physically and verbally very violent. The WC has received a strong warning letter from the French Consulate stating the same. We strongly recommend Aurovilians to avoid all contact/interaction with this individual and not to entertain him in Auroville.

11) Right to Information requests. In the month of August the Auroville Foundation received from one person 23 requests for information, based on the Right to Information Act, and one request from another person. After consultations with a lawyer, the Working Committee has advised the Secretary on the responses to these requests.

12) Visa related issues. With the help of the Secretary and François Gautier, a number of long-pending visa cases have been resolved. We take the opportunity to express, on behalf of the persons involved and the community, our gratitude for their work. A number of other cases are still pending and we do our utmost to get them resolved. We hereby remind the community to update the Resident’s Service in a timely fashion, when a case of pending-visa has been cleared.

13) New Town Development Authority (NTDA). A newspaper announcement around August 14th mentioned that an NTDA for the Auroville area would be announced soon by the Tamil Nadu Government. This led to a series of meetings with the new Secretary of the Auroville Foundation who corrected that no such announcement would be made, and who gave some objective views on the NTDA. Once Mr. Chunkath is back in office by the end of September, the Working Committee, Auroville Council and the NTDA Task Force will have a joint meeting with him. This will be followed by a general information meeting and, possibly, a Residents’ Assembly on the endorsement of the NTDA request. The matter will also be discussed with the Governing Board.

14) Appeal Process. A draft appeal process, made in collaboration with the Auroville Council will be published by the Council this week. We request the community to give its feedback, comments and suggestions during the next two weeks.

15) Drones/quadcopters to be used in Auroville for filming. In consultation with the Secretary it has been agreed that individuals can only use a drone/ quadcopter for filming in the Auroville area after having obtained approval of Outreach and permission from the police. Each case will be looked at individually.

16) Loud parties. There has been a large number of complaints about loud music and heavy traffic during a party on the night of 13th of September. The issue has been discussed with the AVC and Auroville Security. The matter came on the Working Committee table as also non-Aurovilians attended this party.

17) WC team work. We are continuing our reflections on how we can improve our work and personal interaction. This has led to five agreements within our team members, which we practice "with reminders" in our meetings and other interactions

These agreements are:

a) my communication is empowering
b) my listening is deep
c) my behaviour is respectful
d) my understanding is all-inclusive
e) I agree to tell my truth with compassion for myself and others

In our meetings these agreements are reflected in our attempts to build on each other inputs, with full freedom to express oneself, but also taking care not to ‘vent judgements’ but instead re-center and checking discernments behind judgements. It goes without saying that not all attempts are successful but we have observed an increased trust and willingness to ‘correct’ one’s stand.

18) Pending Topics (topics that are still on our table for which we have no noteworthy update to provide):

a) Water Harvest
b) Auroville Child Development
c) MM Executives
d) MM Access – Working Protocol document

The Working Committee
(Angela, Carel, Elisa, Hemant, Inge, Mandakini, Ranjith)