News & Notes 754:Working Committee Report of June, 2018

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754 icon.jpg   News & Notes 754
9 July 2018

Working Committee Report of June, 2018

During the last week of June, the Working Committee was without a quorum due to the holidays and unpredictable family circumstances of some of its members. The main issues dealt with in this period are:

1) Visa issues

a) List of 163 Auroville residents who arrived on a short-term Entry Visa, and who have been residing in Auroville for more than 5 years, and who were granted extensions before, may now all be granted extensions for five years subject to the recommendation of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation.
b) Individual cases. A number of cases are still pending, a few cases have been resolved.
c) Visa situation Paris. The Indian Embassy in Paris has informed Auroville applicants for an Entry Visa that in addition to the letter of recommendation from the Auroville Foundation a financial guarantee is required for Euro 500/ month, so for a 5-year visa 30,000 Euros or Rs 23,85,526. This seems not to be part of the Visa Policy for Auroville and has been taken up by the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, with the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs. This additional request so far affects four Auroville residents. The matter will also be taken up with Ministry of Home Affairs officials during a visit to New Delhi early July.
d) Aurovilians holding an Entry Visa attending workshops and conferences elsewhere in India. The RRO insists that prior intimation to and approval from the RRO is required for Auroville residents who hold an Entry Visa attending conferences and workshops and courses outside Auroville. A clarification has been asked to the FRRO and the matter will also be taken up with Ministry of Home Affairs officials during a visit to New Delhi early July.

2) GST. A second meeting with the Joint Secretary Ministry of Finance to follow up on Auroville's request for partial relief from GST has been asked for the first week of July.

3) Beach protection. The Auroville Foundation will approach the High Court Chennai for permission to put in place on its own land temporary measures to protect Quiet from being washed into the sea. The National Institute for Ocean Technology (NIOT) will give a technical report on the best possible protection. Meeting with the fishermen communities have been taken place and jointly with their representatives meetings have taken place with officials of the Public Works Department in Villupuram and Chennai.

4) Pondicherry bypass road through the Greenbelt. A proposed 4-lane National highway is planned from Ayyur near Vilianur to the north of Kalapet before the toll gate. The routing which will affect Forecomers, Pitchandikulam and Aurogreen, amongst other communities. This road would cross the Auroville Green Belt for a length of 3.5 kilometres and destroy decades of work, much of the Auroville Greenbelt, and come too close to city area. The matter has been brought to the notion of the Governing Board and will be discussed by a delegation from Auroville with the hon'ble Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India in the first week of July.

5) Disputed land purchase.

a) The Secretary has employed two lawyers, Mr. Praveen Kumar, the Addt. Public Prosecutor Pondicherry, and Jayendra from Auroville to file criminal and civil cases against all involved in the sale.
b) Three Land Board members involved with the purchase have resigned, two after meeting with the Secretary, and one upon his return from holidays. No Auroville working group has requested their resignation. In view of the expressed need for a full Land Board team, the Working Committee and the Auroville Council have requested the Land Board Selection Group to select replacement members or resource persons.
c) The Secretary has asked the Working Committee to investigate if due diligence has taken place by the former Land Board members when purchasing the lands. The Working Committee has asked another outside lawyer to look into the file and respond to the question of the Secretary. This work is pending. The Working Committee has not yet come to any conclusion about this question.

6) Government of India Grants.

a) Regular GOI grant for the financial year 2018-2019. We have been informed by the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, that the Government of India has allocated an amount of Rs 15 crore for his financial year, of which Rs 12 crore is allocated for capital and Rs 3 for general.
b) Special 50th anniversary grant. Almost all of the INR 10 crore special grant for capital from the Government of India (GoI) has been earmarked, with nearly 70 projects that have received funding in various categories such as education, conferences, celebrations, waste management, publications, sports, public works, arts & culture, green works, mobility, security, outreach, communication, and unity activities. A breakdown of the allocation so far will be presented in the upcoming Working Committee General Meeting on July 12th. Detailed reports of each of the projects that received funding are being prepared by the 50th Anniversary Team and will be published on Auronet. The 50th desk in SAIIER first floor as well as the email 50core (at) remains open for queries.

7) Proposal for private land ownership in the Greenbelt area of Auroville. The Working Committee and Auroville Council have decided to create a study group to evaluate proposals about the possibility of promoting land ownership in the Greenbelt by people who support the ideals of Auroville.

8) Fire in Auromodel community. A fire significantly damaged two houses in Auromodel. We remind the community to be wary of the possibility of fires in the summer months. Please inform Housing Service if there will be prolonged absence in order to arrange for house-sitting, and become familiar with the procedure for responding to a fire (see separate post by AVSST).

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