News & Notes 826:Report of the Working Committee for April 14th to July 5th, 2020

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826 icon.jpg   News & Notes 826
11 July 2020


Report of the Working Committee for April 14th to July 5th, 2020



The main issues of these months were as follows:

Coronavirus Covid-19 situation

  1. The Working Committee together with the Task Force have been regularly reporting about new developments and shared government guidelines through mass bulletin and on the Auronet.
  2. We regret that on July 3rd an Auroville resident, a French volunteer, tested positive. The community, the locations and all the person she has been in contact with have been informed. The person and her roommate have been brought to Jipmer. Specific information has been published separately.
  3. The community has previously been informed about the resignation of the Emergency Task Force and the formation of a new the Task Force. Since then, Stephanie and Sundar have resigned as members of the new team and Naren has joined. Tejaswini and Prashant continue as advisors.
  4. We have requested Palmyra to respect the decision not to allow any contact sports in Auroville, and to suspend all cricket events with outside participants until such a time when it will be more appropriate to do it.
  5. We remind all that for the time being no new guests / volunteers can be hosted in Auroville.


Auro Oceanic

The Working Committee has published the correspondence with Dr. Karan Singh, the Chairman of Auro Oceanic, on the issue on the Auronet and via the mass bulletin.


Developments on private land

  1. In view of the recent intensification of developments on privately-owned lands in the City Area of the Auroville Master Plan, the Working Committee has sent a note to the Collector and brought the matter to his attention during an informal meeting. A few complaints have been sent also to the enforcement office of the Block Development Officer.
  2. We have also written to the Chairman of the Governing Board, Dr. Karan Singh. We have informed him that the Working Committee considers that the future of the Auroville Township is in danger and that Auroville will not be able to manifest unless immediate and strong measures are taken. The lands within the City Area need to be owned by the Auroville Foundation as soon as possible.
  3. We have requested the Board take immediate action to safeguard the future of Auroville. These actions include that the Board approve: i. that land purchase can happen at realistic market prices;
    1. that land purchase within the City Area continues on a war-footing;
    2. that the Board requests the Ministry of Human Resource Development for a grant or a long-term interest-free loan to purchase the remaining lands in the City Area of Auroville;
    3. that the Board, with the support of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, interacts with the Government of Tamil Nadu to get stronger statutory protection and acquire the lands in the City Area of Auroville.
    4. The Chairman has responded that he shares the concerns expressed by the Working Committee and will take the mater up with the HRD Ministry.


Joint meetings with FAMC and Land Board

A series of meetings are happening with the FAMC and Land Board in which we are jointly looking into how to accelerating land purchase possibilities.


The Auroville Entry Policy 2020

In 2019, proposals have been made for modifying the internal document the Auroville Entry Policy. Community feedback process was invited and a general meeting followed to come to a proposed new Entry Policy (see https://auroville.org.in/article/75466). The revisions have subsequently been discussed and agreed with the Entry Board. The Working Committee will soon call a decision of the Residents’ Assembly on these proposed modifications.


The draft Auroville Exit Policy

A draft of the Exit Policy, made by the Exit Policy Task Force, has been presented to the community for several rounds of feedback. The Task Force has since resigned. The Working Committee is in the process of looking at the new comments that have emerged on the content of this document. In due time, the Working Committee will also present this document for approval by the Residents’ Assembly.


The Auroville Foundation (Admission and Termination of persons into the Register of Residents) Regulations 2019

These Regulations have been officially approved by the HRD Ministry. After incorporating the change demanded by the Residents’ Assembly (the removal of the sentence “Ownership of immoveable assets in the Greenbelt area of the Auroville Master Plan is only allowed with the written permission of the Auroville Foundation” in Form 1 of the Regulations) the Acting Secretary has sent the Regulations for publication in part III of the Gazette of India. This is expected to happen soon.

Many members of the community have proposed that more amendments in these Regulations are now made. In due course the Working Committee will call a decision of the Residents’ Assembly on these proposed amendments when it is more appropriate to conduct a community process. If the RA approves the proposed amendments, the decision of the RA will be submitted to the Governing Board. After the Board’s approval, the approval of the HRD Ministry will be required before the amendments can become official, which will likely take some time.


Registration of guests staying in Auroville guesthouses; and Registration of foreign residents of Auroville in hotels, guesthouses, hospitals and other institutes outside Auroville

  1. The Foreigners Regional Registration Officer cum Civil Authority, Chennai, has brought to our notice that foreign nationals cannot check in into hotels/hospitals/institutes/guest houses using their aadhaar card. They need to use their passport, residential permit and stay visa.
  2. Managers of Auroville guesthouses and home stays cannot accept an aadhaar card from a foreigner for filing C Forms. Instead, the original passport and visa details of the foreigner need to be filled in at the on-line C Form within 24 hours after the arrival of the foreigner in the guesthouse or home stay. Also, the guesthouse/ home stay has to keep a copy of the passport and visa for future reference. Not following these instructions is a punishable offense.


Acts of vandalism at Sunship and Kalpana

Unknown persons have lit large locally acquired firecrackers at Kalpana and Sunship on the night of Saturday-Sunday 20-21 June, resulting in loud bangs, fear and temporary deafness among some residents. Some residents of Sunship decided to file a complaint with the police, who subsequently visited the sites. The issue has brought up frustration of some residents towards the Working Committee, as the Auroville Safety & Security Team (AVSST) and the Working Committee did not wish to file a police complaint immediately, as there was a strong possibility that these acts involved youngsters. This does not mean that the Working Committee condones the incidents. We find these incidents that disturb and frighten people, create health hazards, damage properties and create safety risks unacceptable. We fully support the AVSST in the search of those responsible who should be held accountable.


Dismissal of employees at Bharat Nivas

  1. During the lockdown period the Bharat Nivas Trustees decided to lay off its campus workers because GOI grants are no longer available for Bharat Nivas. The workers were informed. On the advice of Bharat Nivas Trust’s lawyer, a public notice of their retrenchment and the closure of the campus was also issued. This move angered the workers and led to a workers’ confrontation at the campus and their refusal of the proposed settlement. The campus gate was locked from the inside by the workers and police intervention was sought. The situation was brought under control. The agitation was backed by a local politician and was reported in the local newspapers.
  2. On June 5th, the Working Committee received a complaint letter from the workers with the request to intervene. A meeting was organized at SAWCHU (a large, open space in the Bharat Nivas Campus) with the Bharat Nivas trustees, the workers, two representatives from the Working Committee (Selvaraj and Partha) and two representatives from FAMC (Kalya and Anitha) with a facilitation by Vikram.
  3. During this meeting the views of both sides were expressed. In addition, Elumalai (an Aurovilian who lives on the Bharat Nivas campus and was previously the campus manager), who is supporting the workers, expressed his past contribution to Bharat Nivas and complained that he had not been consulted about the dismissals. It was agreed that this is a dispute between Elumalai and the Bharat Nivas Trustees, which needs to be resolved between them and should not be mixed with the worker’s dismissal issue.
  4. It was mutually agreed that when workers need to be re-hired, the laid- off workers would be the first to be considered. A letter to this effect was requested by the workers from the Bharat Nivas Trustees, who agreed. The meeting concluded with the decision that the workers will come up with a proposal to find an amicable solution, which the Bharat Nivas trustees will study.
  5. A follow up to this meeting was planned on the 13th June 2020, to which the same people were invited. Regrettably, only Selvaraj and Vikram and the workers made themselves available so the process broke down.
  6. On June 16, another meeting took place with representatives of the workers, a Bharat Nivas trustee, and 4 members of the Working Committee in the Working Committee office. The workers presented two proposals; the trustees have been requested to choose one of the proposals to develop further in order to move forward. The issue is yet to be concluded.


Birth Certificate information

We have written to the Block Medical Officer of this area about procedures to be followed for hospital and home deliveries, asking for his comments on a document “Birth Certificate Information” drafted by Paula M, which we intend to publish on the Auronet. We await the BMO’s comments.


Sve Dam conflict

One of the parties in the Sve Dam conflict has informed us that, in consultation with a lawyer, the decision has been taken not to participate in a legal mediation proposed by the Working Committee. We are studying what can be done to bring the issue to a harmonious conclusion.


Apology by Paul Vincent

At the request of the Working Committee and the Acting Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, Paul Vincent has apologized to the Chairman, Auroville Foundation, for mentioning his name and those of members of his family in his accusation spread by email that Banu, a member of the Land Board, would be the broker in charge of buying land for Dr. Karan Singh's daughter in the vicinity of the Green Belt near Matthur; and his subsequent statement that the insertion of the clause in the Auroville Foundation (Admission and Termination of Persons in the Register of Residents’ Regulations) 2019 to which the community objected and which since has been removed, is connected to this alleged land deal.

Neither Dr. Karan Singh nor any member of his family is or has ever been engaged in purchasing land around Auroville, nor has any contact with Ms. Banu. Paul’s presumption that there is a connection between this land deal and the Regulations is baseless.The Land Board has meanwhile categorically denied all the accusations made by Mr. Paul Vincent against the members of Land Board as false and not backed with any credible evidence or proof.


Complaining to the RRO/FRRO

In recent times, and in the past, there have been cases of Aurovilians going to or threatening to go to the RRO/FRRO with complaints against other Auroville residents of foreign origin. We consider this incorrect. It is not acceptable that an Auroville resident puts him or herself in the position of a single and individual 'Exit Committee' by putting visas of other Aurovilians at risk. Auroville's internal processes must be followed to resolve conflicts.


Police visit at the Youth Center

On Friday, 3rd July, we were contacted by the DSP who expressed his intention to go to the Youth Center as part of their enquiry into the incidents at Sunship and Kalpana. One member of the Security Service and 3 members of the Working Committee accompanied him to the Youth Center, where he issued a stern warning about gatherings under the current Coronavirus situation.


The Working Committee