News & Notes 790:Report of the Working Committee of the months of January and February 2019

From Auroville Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
790 icon.jpg   News & Notes 790
18 March 2019


Report of the Working Committee of the months of January and February 2019


The main topics of these months were:

1) COMPOSITION OF THE WORKING COMMITTEE

The term of office of Hemant and Inge expired on December 15th, 2018. Inge continued to serve as resource person till February 15, 2019. Till new members have been appointed by the community, the Working Committee will consist of 5 members only, e.g. Mandakini, Ranjith, Partha, Sauro and Carel.

2) EXPANSION OF THE WORKING COMMITTEE SECRETARIAT

Because of the heavy work increase of the secretariat of the Working Committee, it has been decided to add a full-time secretary starting in March.

3) GENERAL MEETING

The Working Committee held a general meeting on January 22nd in which it presented the work it was involved with and answered questions.

4) VISITS NEW DELHI

On January 23-25, Sauro and Carel visited New Delhi to discuss matters related to land protection with a Supreme Court lawyer and then subsequently with Town and Country Planning Organization and the National Institute for Urban Affairs. The result of these discussions is awaited. They also met with Dr. Karan Singh and Dr. Saravana Kumar of the HRD Ministry. An appointment to meet with officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs was not given.
On January 30, François Gautier, who has been authorised to represent the Working Committee in visa issues, met with the Secretary and other officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Further to this meeting, a clarifying letter about Auroville was sent by the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, and all those affected have written explanatory emails to the ministry.

5) VISIT OF NEW GOVERNING BOARD MEMBER DR. PARAMESWARAN:

The new member of the Governing Board, Dr. K. Parameswaran, paid a two-day visit to Auroville in January and met with many people in the community. A profile of Dr. Parameswaran was published in the February 2019 issue of Auroville Today.

6) GOVERNING BOARD MEETING

The Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation was in Auroville from February 25-28. Meetings with working groups took place on February 25 and 26, while on February 27 the Board had its own internal meeting.
The Board members who were present during the interactions with the Auroville working groups were Dr. Karan Singh, Chairman; Dr. Prema Nandakumar, Dr. Nirima Oza, and Dr. Parameswaran. Dr. Anirban Ganguly and Shri Siljo, who represented HRD Joint Secretary Dr. Saravana Kumar, only attended the meeting of the Board itself on February 27th. Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty could not attend the meeting.

The following topics were brought to the attention of the Board by the Working Committee:

  • 6.1. IAC and GB:
We communicated the concern of the Residents' Assembly that the International Advisory Council has still not been reconstituted and that the seventh member of the Governing Board has still not been appointed. The Board was requested to urge the Minister of Human Resource Development to speed up the appointment of the members of the International Advisory Council and the seventh GB member.
  • 6.2. Discrimination matters:
We communicated that the community was grateful for the visit of Dr. Prema Nanadkumar and Dr. Nirima Oza to address the allegations of discrimination voiced by some of the residents of Auroville and that it would appreciate to be informed about the outcome of their investigation.
  • 6.3. Visa issues:
The Board was informed about the various visa issues facing Auroville and concern was expressed that the expulsion of an Auroville resident without warning and with no reasons given, tears into the fabric of international diversity of Auroville, creates social unrest, fear and uncertainty among the residents who have come here to serve and build Auroville. It also sends an unwelcoming message to the international community, to the extent that such actions endanger the growth and development of Auroville.
The Board was asked to urge the Home Ministry to allow the reentry into India of the five persons who have been banned recently and the five who have been banned more than 10 years ago, and renew the stay visa of the five people who are waiting for their extensions.
Acknowledging that the Government of India has the unfettered right to expel foreigners from India, the Board was also asked to propose to the Ministry that:
    • a) all cases of perceived visa violations by residents of Auroville are addressed by the relevant authorities directly with the individuals concerned, if required with the help of the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation and that the individuals concerned are given opportunity to be heard to explain or defend themselves;
    • b) minor visa violations are to be punished in different ways than by refusing re-entry or expelling a person, e.g. by imposing a fine. In deciding on the fine to be paid, the nature of the offense, the person's age, the duration of a person's stay in India, and his/her contribution to the development of Auroville may also be taken into account;
    • c) those who have committed a major visa violation, which the Government wishes to punish by expulsion, are informed about the duration of such expulsion and are given time to make their affairs in Auroville in order before making to leave India.
  • 6.4. National Highway NH 332 A:
The Board was informed about the developments with the proposed National Highway NH 332 A, of which the community has been informed in earlier postings in the News and Notes by the Highway Task Force.
  • 6.5. The disputed land purchase IR 426/1C2:
The Board was informed about the status of the legal action taken and of the offer of repayment of the purchase price by the sellers, which is under consideration by the Secretary. An investigation into possible irregularities in the land purchase has been conducted by a Task Group constituted by the Secretary. The Working Committee is not involved in this matter and has not been informed about the findings of the Task Group.
  • 6.6. Legal representation of the Auroville Foundation:
The Working Committee has expressed its concern that members of the Land Board and/or the Working Committee, who file, on behalf of the Foundation, police complaints against individuals who have been acting against the interests of the Auroville Foundation, are often themselves harassed and sometimes have to face police action. This leads to unwillingness of individuals to represent the Foundation.
  • 6.7. Land encroachment:
We have proposed that, now that the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, has been appointed Estate Officer of the Auroville Foundation under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, action is taken against all those who are encroaching on Auroville land.
  • 6.8. Beach erosion Quiet:
The Board was informed about action taken after the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal New Delhi's order of September 5, 2018 directing the Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority to take appropriate steps, in accordance to law. Steps have been taken to obtain the required permissions for the construction of three small T-groynes as advised by the National Institute for Ocean Technology. At the same time, the local fishermen association is in process of petitioning the Government of Tamil Nadu to restart the initial 9 groynes protection project, which was stopped in 2013.
  • 6.9 Tamil Heritage Centre:
    • a) Regarding the misuse of Tamil Heritage Centre funds, a police complaint has been filed by the Secretary of Auroville Foundation. The Working Committee is not involved in this matter.
    • b) Finalizing the construction of the Centre. The Secretary of Auroville Foundation has constituted a Monitoring Committee consisting of seven members: the Secretary and Under Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, one member from the Working Committee (Ranjith), one member from the Funds and Assets Management Committee (Prabhu), one trustee of the Bharat Nivas Trust (Shankar), and two members from the community at large (Dhruv and Ramesh Tulyani). The Committee is in the process of appointing an architect and a contractor.
  • 6.10. Auroville Foundation (Entry and Removal of names of Persons in the Register of Residents) Regulations 2013:
We expressed concern that the HRD Ministry has still not approved the Governing Board approved ‘Entry and Removal of names of Persons in the Register of Residents Regulations 2013’. This approval is required as per section 32.3 of the Auroville Foundation Act which states that “no Regulation made by the Board shall have effect until it has been approved by the Central Government and published in the Official Gazette”. Mr. Siljo brought the news that the Regulations have recently been approved and will be communicated to the Auroville Foundation soon.
  • 6.11 Rules of the Auroville Foundation:
More than 20 years ago the HRD Ministry was asked to change of the Rules of the Auroville Foundation. We are unaware of the status of review of the Rules of the Foundation.
  • 6.12 By the Land Board:
The Board discussed land purchase issues with the members of the Land Board. The Land Board presented the Auroville Land Situation June 2018, the new due diligence procedure for land purchase & exchange and a report on Wood sales.
  • 6.13 By the Land Protection Team:
The Land Protection team updated about the recent interaction with Tamil Nadu Government about the proposed constitution of a New Town Development Authority (NTDA for the Auroville area and informed the Board that a process of information and consultation with the Residents' Assembly will take place before making further recommendations. The team also urged the Board to ask for a special grant from the Government of India to purchase all the lands in the city and greenbelt areas
  • 6.14 By the FAMC:
The FAMC presented its work studying options for Auroville's economic growth (Growing Auroville’s Economy Sustainably initiative); Internal Audits; Compliance and Restructuring; and the GOI Grant in Aid Works Manual.
  • 6.15 By the GOI Grant group:
The GOI Grant Group presented the GOI grant budget projections 2019-2020 together with a note on the priorities for GOI funding. It also submitted a defence of the utilisation of Government of India grant for housing.
  • 6.16 By the Town Development Council (TDC):
Members of the TDC discussed the present and future work of the TDC.
  • 6.17 By the Matrimandir executives:
The Matrimandir executives discussed the need for land purchase required to allow for the future Matrimandir Lake and the progress of the Matrimandir gardens.
  • 6.18 By the 50th anniversary team:
The team showed a film clip on the event "Journey of Auroville - Presenting Auroville in India", pre-released copies of the coffee table book by Olivier Barot, presented a mock-up of the 50th Souvenir Booklet, and gave a financial update on and the status of the projects under the special GOI grant received for the 50th anniversary.
  • 6.19 By SAIIER:
Divya and Chali spoke about education and higher education/further learning and Sanjeev R gave a presentation about STEM Land as an example of an educational research and further learning activity that is happening successfully in Auroville.
  • 6.20 By Bharat Nivas:
The trustees of Bharat Nivas Trust talked about ongoing work. The Ashram book “Dawn of Auroville” was presented during this interaction with the Governing Board.
  • Inaugurations:
On February 25th, Dr. Karan Singh inaugurated the Multipurpose Indoor stadium at New Creation Sports Ground and the new Post Office at the Service area
  • Interactions:
On February 26th, the Board visited Kalpana and Humanscapes. At Humanscapes, they also listened to a presentation on a new project by YouthLink.
Reports for information:
For information only, the Board also received reports from the Entry Service, the Auroville Council, Land for Auroville United and from Outreach Media.

7) GUESTHOUSES AND HOME STAYS

  • 7 a) FFRO intimation
Many guesthouses and home-stays in Auroville have received intimations from the FRRO to remind them of the need to properly register all foreigners through the online C-form registration. Some people received an email even though they no longer run a home stay.
The Guest Facilities Coordination Group (CFCG) has informed us that this has happened as the logins at the FRRO are dated from 2013 and have not been cancelled. To close an online C-form login, each individual log-in holder will have to present themselves PERSONALLY at the RRO in Pondicherry and bring a request letter (written by the individual) for closure of the online C-form login; an ID proof; and the registration agreement for the home-stay.
The GFCG aims at developing a relationship with the FRRO where the GFCG will act as the intermediary administrative body for Auroville’s registered guest facilities, but that will take more time.
  • 7 b) Electricity rates
Auroville Electrical Service has informed us that Homestays are subject to the commercial electricity tariff. Homestays that are attached to or are part of the house should convert from domestic tariff to commercial tariff. Homestays that are in a separate building should get a separate commercial connection. The Working Committee is verifying the actions that has to be taken in this regard

8) DECISION BY INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE.

The Internal Complaints Committee of Auroville, set up under the Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, has investigated a complaint about sexual harassment. The ICC found that there was sexual harassment and has made recommendations to be taken against the harasser. The Working Committee has followed up on these recommendations. Its decisions have not been accepted by the harasser. He has been informed that he can appeal the decision of the Working Committee as provided for in the Act.
In accordance with the Act, neither the ICC nor the Working Committee can make public the identity of the aggrieved woman or the harasser or the decisions taken against him.

9) MR. VIKRAM RAM

The office of the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation and the Working Committee have so far received 8 requests under the Right to Information Act by a former Friend of Auroville, Mr. Vikram Ram. Mr. Ram is aggrieved because he feels that either the Auroville Foundation or the Working Committee should have provided him with police protection as requested by him after he was beaten up on 7th August 2017 in the village of Kuilapalayam by villagers, when he refused to pay the rent of a building he had rented, arguing that the land belonged to Auroville. On investigation it was seen that the land does not belong to Auroville. This conclusion is not accepted by Mr. Ram. Mr. Ram has taken it upon himself to question Auroville in all possible ways, using information he can only have received from residents of Auroville who sympathize with his views.

10) ROADS AND TREE CUTTING IN THE GREEN BELT

We are extremely concerned about the developments in the eastern sector of the Green Belt, in the area of Aurogreen and Fertile, and has contacted all the concerned authorities in relations to the tree cutting and clearing in the Kolam area by the authorities of Mailam Temple.
A new private road has been open in land claimed by the Mailam Temple, according to our information without any permission. Also this matter has been brought to the attention of the concerned authorities.
Recently, in the month of February a road from Pillaichavady to Mathur has been tarred under a scheme of Tamil Nadu govt. We are extremely concerned that it may lead to private real estate development. We are trying to prevent further tarring in direction of Kuylapalayam that will seriously infringe deep within the Green Belt. We have been told by the concerned dept that there is no plan to proceed further but we will keep paying attention.

11) NAME AND SYMBOL PROTECTION GROUP:

The mandate of the Name and Symbol Protection Group has been renewed.
A meeting of members of the Name and Symbol Protection Group and the Working Committee took place with advocate Mohan in Chennai. As the name and symbol of Auroville have been protected under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950, which specifically states that a protected name and symbol cannot be used as trademark, it was agreed to take corresponding action with the Registry of Trademarks.

12) HOUSE LATE DANIEL HUMBERT IN SHARNGA:

A police complaint has been filed against a person from the village who is illegally occupying the house stewarded by late Daniel Humbert in Sharnga and who has taken possession of his van.

13) OCI matters

Holders of OCI cards are advised to visit https://ociservices.gov.in to keep updated on the rules and regulations around OCI matters and passport changes.


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