News & Notes 897:Auroville Council report – August, September and October 2021

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897 icon.jpg   News & Notes 897
20 November 2021


Auroville Council report – August, September and October 2021



The Auroville Council hope that you all had a fine Diwali and are enjoying the best rains we’ve had in years.

Koodam is dissolving

In August Koodam shared their decision to close the platform after 8 years of service.

For the transition Koodam suggested a rough framework to the Council to enable the arbiter, mediator and facilitator pools to continue to function. The framework consists of:

  • A coordination team for the arbiter pool,
  • A coordination team for the mediator and facilitator pool, and
  • A resource team to help the Council with the work involved in holding the different processes of the Conflict Resolution Policy (CRP).

Council has welcomed the suggested framework and begun implementing it. The formation, responsibilities and interaction of these entities is being refined as we go along. This structure is being explored on an experimental basis but so far this is going well.

The coordination teams will continue training and developing the different pools.

CRP3 emergency response team

An emergency response team for CRP section 3 cases (addressing cases involving violence, psychological issues etc.) consisting of Council, Working committee, Security and resource members was recently formed.

Internal functioning

As some of the Council members were out for a few months, Elisa was invited to join Council meetings as a general resource person. We thank her for her contribution.

Social Hub/CRP 3 coordination

On 20th October, Council convened the people/groups that were previously involved in conceptualising a Social Hub for Auroville. A hub that would support the working groups in handling psychologically and emotionally challenging cases. Representatives from Mattram, AVCP, Auroville security, Sante, CRP 3 emergency response group, and the mediation & facilitation coordination teams were present.

To follow up on a concept note for the Social Hub, a CRP 3 coordinators team, consisting mostly of resource persons but also Council and AV security, was formed to oversee cases that are not emergencies and to explore how the area of social care can best be nurtured and developed in Auroville.

Land Board Selection Committee & the selection of new Land Board members

The report and the outcome of the LBSC was shared with the community in September 2021. The following names have been selected for the new LB team: Helena, Raja, Satyakam, Venkat and Padmanbhan, and the ongoing members are Rajavelu and Renu. Members from Council and WCom met the new team for an introduction. The new team is now active.

Matrimandir executive selection

A sub group constituted by members of FAMC, WCom and AVC have been looking into the selection process of new executives for Matrimandir. On 23rd September a call for applicants was announced. 19 self-nominations were received and the names have been announced for community feedback.

Community-at-large member for Housing Board

Iyyappan was selected by the FAMC as the community at large member to the Housing Board after Elaine withdrew. During the two weeks feedback period Council as well as a few members of the community raised the concern of a conflict of interest as Iyyappan is a co-executive, with an FAMC member, of a construction material procurement unit. While addressing this with the FAMC, they proposed to the Council that they will review the membership after a period of 6 months.

FAMC mandate review Task Force

The FAMC Mandate Task Force submitted their work to the Council in July for feedback. They also presented it to the FAMC in August. Council with the support of a resource person has shared some observations on the submitted work which is being considered by the task force.

Reviewing all AV mandates and policies

The Council has formed a subgroup consisting of several Council members and 2 resource persons. As a first step all mandates and policies were listed and categorised. Next this group is approaching all working groups in deliberate order to evaluate and review their mandates. For the final review of specific mandated further subgroups will be formed.

Selection process review

The Council met with RAS to discuss a new selection process review. As the Council would be selected by the same process it was felt best that the RAS hold this review instead of Council. The task force (SPRTF) is being formed of persons from the community-at-large only. With a facilitator they will review the PWG 2020 document, the ITF report recommendations, and all other proposals that were previously presented by the community.

Appeal process review

As most of the resource persons who agreed to be part of the appeal process review group have been TOS it has been kept on hold. Soon the group is expected to start the work again.

RA Decision making process

A new interim RAD proposal was presented to the community for feedback. Much of the feedback was incorporated before it went for an emergency RAD (in consultation with Council) and was eventually ratified. This Interim RAD has been proposed to be used for only 9 months during which time alternatives to the general modus of RAD making will be explored and finally presented to the community.

ATDC Office Order and selection process

A new Office Order (2021) for the ATDC was issued by the AV Foundation which created much unrest in the community. The Office Order issued was questioned by many for its legality.

Council during their weekly meeting with Wcom discussed this topic to gain a better understanding of the events that lead to this.

After much study and consideration the Council shared their observations with the community in the two separate postings:

Related to this topic, and much of the reason for the delay and issues with the ATDC selection, are the discrepancies in the 2017 ATDC ratified structure (RA) and the 2019 Standing Order (issued by the AV Foundation). A harmonisation of these 2 documents has been suggested and to will be presented to the Governing Board.

Functioning of ATDC and concerns from community

Some members of the community approached Council regarding the ATDC mandate, its successive Standing Orders (2011 and 2019) and the recent Office Orders (2021). Concerns were expressed regarding the legitimacy of the ATDC members, about the Crown survey and related clearing, the new AVF Secretary’s involvement and the apparent side lining of the RA and community approved processes.

Equally some community members sent their letters in support for the work the new AVF Secretary and the present ATDC were doing.

Without any invitation to the Council, many meetings on these topics were organised by the AVF Secretary between the affected residents, representatives from the Wcom, ATDC, AV Youth, and representatives of the varying viewpoints related to Auroville’s town planning.

Recently the Council met with the ATDC members to discuss a broad agenda. Some of the topics were:

  • Several issues related to the clearing work for the survey of the Crown corridor (at Centre Field, Darkali and Bliss Forest, and regarding laying of the HT cable at the Youth Centre). We shared concerns received from the community regarding this. We also wanted to better understand the ground reality and ATDC’s stance on certain topics.
  • Appeal by ReCentre against an ATDC decision
  • AV’s sludge disposal
  • A document sent to Council from the Evolving Galaxy group with their concerns about the present ATDC and a response to this from Universal Town Support group. It was decided that this topics requires an entire follow up meeting.

Guidelines for asking an Aurovilian to change workplace

A subgroup of Council with a member from FAMC and two from Koodam are presently working on this document. The subgroup interacted with unit holders, service managers, a few members of the School Board & some Aurovilians who have been dismissed without due process.

A preliminary draft was shared with FAMC and FARG (Finance Asset Resource Group) group for their inputs. The document will soon be shared.

Auronet

Personal accusations and allegations on our public forum, harming Auroville internally and externally, were becoming a matter of concern. It was felt that there is a collective responsibility and we all need to be aware of this. As a mitigating measure Council with Wcom implemented the Auronet guidelines for a trial period of six months.

A call to the community was made to form the moderator support group for Auronet. The group has been formed and will start operating.

Substance abuse

On 6th August, members of Wcom, Council and two representatives from AVSST met to discuss the sensitive topic of growing substance abuse in Auroville and ways to create awareness among Aurovilians. It was felt that there is a real need to face this situation with clarity, efficacy and confidentiality. A campaign of awareness supported by documentation, books or videos was explored.

Inquiry Task Force

The Council has published the report from the ITF in August 2021, https://auroville.org.in/article/85852 . As some misrepresentations were noted in the report, and the ITF had expressed that it was too late for them to include these observations because they had already disbanded, the Council and Wcom published them separately.

Auroville’s growth

ATDC and Housing Board are looking at the long-term housing possibilities for newcomers and Aurovilian youngsters, in collaboration with Entry Board and FAMC. Council has attempted to follow-up but without response from ATDC.

Youth Housing

Ganesh from the Council is part of the Youth Housing which is constituted by members of Housing Service/Board, AV youths, community at large and Council. The purpose of this group is to support the youth of Auroville to meet their housing needs.

RAS

Manoj Kumar resigned as the RAS member from 15th September onwards. Verena who was working as a RAS resource person for several years has joined as a new RAS member.

We express our gratitude for the service offered by Manoj Kumar and wish him all the best for his future. Council welcomes Verena as a new member.

Discontinuing of FGCT

In mid-August the Farm Group Coordination Team sent a mail to the Council informing us that they would be stepping down from September. They shared their observations and recommendations for the Farm Group. The Council is thankful for their service.

Communication with residents

During these 3 months Council has approached the community through N&N, Auronet and mass bulletin for announcements, feedback and information:

  • Interim RAD proposal
  • Report of ITF
  • Observation on ATDC Standing Order and Office Order
  • Appeal process and ATDC
  • Outcome of LBSC
  • Follow up on ATDC membership observations
  • Regarding postings on Auronet
  • New Guidelines for Auronet
  • Call to form Auronet moderator support group
  • Mandate and policy review subgroup
  • Selection Process Review Task force (SPRTF)
  • Observations on ITF report

Appeal, arbitration & mediation

Cases are now being held in collaboration with the newly formed appeal and arbitration coordination team. A specified resource team to help Council with this work being formed.

ACUR appeal

The appeal body had missed a step in the procedure and met with the Arbiter Coordination team to ascertain the next steps. Council is waiting to hear from them.

African Pavilion appeal

This appeal process is being held by the Wcom as it is against a decision of Council. Council met with the appeal body and generally accepted their recommendations with some input.

Re-centre appeal

ATDC has decided not to cooperate with the appeal process. As the appeal process is a community approved document, Council decided to go ahead with the process. Arbiters are appointed and the process will soon begin.

Appeal about apartment allocation

This is against a decision of FAMC. The arbiters are appointed and the process is in progress.

Procurement unit appeal

This appeal is against the decision of FAMC about starting another construction procurement unit in Auroville. The issue being unresolved in the facilitated meeting will now go to the next steps of the appeal process.

Appeal regarding a balance sheet disclosure

This appeal was filed against the decision of FAMC denying access to the balance sheet of a unit of which the appellant was a manager. The facilitated meeting has not happened as FAMC questions the validity of this appeal. The Council is reassessing the validity of this appeal.

Appeal for Nolly’s house

This appeal is filed by the Auroville Health Service against the decision of FAMC for the allocating of Nolly’s house. Several appeals were filed against the same decision but Council could only validate the one from the AVHS. Council met with several concerned individuals to hear from them. A facilitated meeting between the two parties will soon be held.

Arbitration regarding Sanjana

This is a very long standing disagreement. Finally the scope has been defined in consultation with both parties and an arbitration body has been formed. The arbitration will start soon.

Regarding the access issue between two Auroville farms

A team of mediators tried their best to resolve this issue. We sincerely express our gratitude for their efforts. As a result of the mediation not being successful, and one of the parties being unwilling to enter into an arbitration, the Council was left with no other options but to impose an arbitration. The arbitration body is being formed and will commence their work soon.

Although the issue remains unresolved the work done by the mediators will help the arbiters in their work.

Conflicts and other issues

There are many conflicts on the table of Council.

  • An issue regarding a container is being looked at by a subgroup of Council
  • The issue regarding the change made at the main gate of town hall was successfully resolved by Council
  • A debt issue regarding an Auroville activity was directed to the Trustees.
  • Council is extending further help to related debt issues.
  • Amongst many others…


Auroville Council