News & Notes 900:BCC narrative report – Jul '21 to Sep '21

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900 icon.jpg   News & Notes 900
11 December 2021

BCC narrative report: Jul '21 to Sep '21

Dear Community, the BCC would like to share with you a narrative report of issues addressed and decisions taken in July, August and September 2021 as a complement to our monthly report of income and expenses. We hope this can increase community-wide understanding of the economic issues affecting our community that fall within the BCC’s scope of work.

Community-at-large matters

  • Moving towards centrally supported services: BCC is happy to share that we have been working on providing full support for essential community services. Pour Tous Water and the Puncture Service’s costs are now fully supported by City Services budgets, and their service is free for community members. We have committed to transitioning Solar Kitchen from a self-supporting to a centrally-supported service (see dedicated section below). In this way, we are facilitating step by step a movement towards a collective economy in which peoples’ essential needs are taken care of, as per the Mother’s vision.
  • Informational website on City Services budget: A subgroup of the BCC (BCC member Suryamayi, and a BCC resource person, Avinash) are continuing to work on an informational website to communicate the overall income and disbursements of City Services in an accessible way, to increase community awareness of our communal funds.
  • Farm Group Coordination Team (FGCT): The Farm Group Coordination Team, which had been the point of contact for BCC for budgetary matters related to farms, informed the BCC that they have dissolved their team. The BCC hopes that a new team will be set up soon and carry on with the collaboration that had been initiated with BCC to explore better ways to support Auroville farms to support the community.
  • New Children’s Maintenance Guidelines: Equal opportunities of support to all our children from 1st October 2021 onwards. See our Auronet post for details.
         With this decision – to include all Auroville children below the age of 18 – we have widened the scope of eligibility for children maintenance. The parents were asked to reach out to BCC in case they would be in need of financial support from the Central Budget. It doubles the numbers of eligible children and would double the allocated monthly budget earmarked for children’s maintenance. Thank you to the FAMC for giving the green light for it.
         To support this broader scope we are implementing a reduction in individual Children Maintenance amounts. Please see the overview below.
Children from 0-18
Age: 0-5 Age: 6-13 Age: 14-18
(Starts with birth ends with 6th birthday) (Starts with 6th birthday, ends with 14th birthday) (Starts with 14th birthday, ends with 18th birthday)
Cash 600 600 600
Kind 700 1700 2700
Heath Fund (HF) 250 250 250
In Kind Scheme (IKS) NIL NIL NIL
Nandini 450 450 450
Total 2,000 3,000 4,000
  • Update on Temporary Emergency Maintenances: Temporary Emergency Maintenances are available to any Aurovilian who chooses to volunteer at a registered Auroville entity that has insufficient funds to support them with a Maintenance, and who is in financial need. During the second quarter of this financial year around 45 Temporary Emergency Maintenances were shared between 61 adults (Rs. 6 lakhs/month). An additional 26 children (Rs. 99,000/month) were also covered under TEM.

Support to Units

As committed earlier, BCC agreed to provide a one time matching grant of the funds raised for MERA grants so far (approximately around Rs. 42 lakhs) as a gesture of support to the community during these uncertain times. MERA will make a call for the second round to provide grant support to the entities which are facing financial difficulties.

Management of Services

  • Bharat Nivas (update): The Bharat Nivas team reached out to BCC for financial support. The Auditorium budget was reinstated and a few Aurovilian contributions of BN team members waived.
  • News and Notes: The newly appointed team Roy and Agnijata are serving as the new News & Notes and the distribution of paper-version has been resumed.
  • Pour Tous Water (on-going topic): There was no agreement regarding the proposed executives, so the registration of PTW as a service unit (under Service Trust) could not happen. The BCC approved a monthly budget of Rs. 68,600 to cover the running costs of Pour Tous Water. From August, Pour Tous Water service is free of charge and Aurovilians will contribute only for materials, see the Auronet announcement.
  • Solar Kitchen update: The Solar Kitchen re-opened on August 15th with a new scope of work defined by the Solar Kitchen subgroup (made up of BCC, FAMC and WCom members):
a. SK will from now on be a community-budgeted service, rather than a self-supporting service
b. SK will use as much Auroville farm produce as possible
c. SK will function with as few non-Aurovilian employees as possible
d. SK will offer a dinner and eventually breakfast service.
On 15th of August, SK opened with 2 weeks of free trial lunches financed by the City Services budget administered by the BCC. Around 350 community members/day had their lunch at SK during this trial period. It was decided that in the following 3 months (Sep – Nov) the monthly expenses of the Solar Kitchen would be studied, to arrive at a basis on which BCC could allocate a monthly recurring budget. In the meantime, SK is financing its expenses through individual lunch contributions. In September, the expenses of SK were 16.3 Lakhs, of which 2.4 Lakhs was spent on the purchase of Auroville farm produce, and 2.3 Lakhs on outside farm produce. A support group with BCC (Inge and Fabien) and FAMC (Marc and Angelo) members has been formed to help the new SK executives in this initial phase. We would also like to share that several Aurovilians have been offering voluntary service at Solar Kitchen on a daily basis.

Meetings with other groups/services

  • Road Service: A subgroup of the BCC (Danny, Rathinam, Mahi) have begun holding meetings with the Road Service to look into their budget and scope of work.
  • SAIIER: In July the BCC met with representatives of SAIIER(Lij un, Sanjeev and Chali), who shared that many activities are applying to become sub-units of SAIIER and receive GOI funds. They pointed out that GOI are meant for new projects or research, not for ongoing projects. In the current SAIIER activities list there are mainly projects asking to cover their running costs. They are requesting BCC to take up these budgets as of next financial year. It would be to BCC to evaluate the different projects and decide which to support as services of Auroville.

Service Budgets

The BCC has not yet sent out any new budget request forms as the economic situation is uncertain. Services are welcome to approach BCC for any required changes on a case-by-case basis. In the period July – September ‘21 BCC approved the increase of several monthly budgets (around 22), but the new amounts don’t exceed the ‘19-’20 recurring amounts.

  • Arpanaa: The Arpanaa team (who organise performances of visiting artists to Auroville) explained that they cannot plan their activities without knowing if BCC will grant them a budget. A budget of Rs. 1,50,000 was approved (based on their previously awarded budgets); funds will be released on a performance basis as permitted by Covid protocols.
  • Art for Land: The BCC approved a half Maintenance for the Art for Land project, to be reviewed at the end of the Financial Year.
  • Entry Service: The Entry Service contacted BCC requesting an increase in Maintenances given that the Aspiration programme was restarting following lockdown. The BCC approved 1 additional Maintenance to the Entry Service budget (which covers the Entry Secretariat, Entry Board, and Aspiration Newcomer programme team). An additional Temporary Emergency Maintenance was also allocated.
  • SAIIER transport: A budget of Rs. 30,000/month was approved for bus trips to Dehashakti Sports Ground.
  • Forest Group: requested to go back to their pre-Covid budget of Rs. 4,35,236 plus an increase for wages: total 4,80,000 per month.
         *BCC Care met with Glenn and Agnes of the Forest Group to understand their financial needs. They explained their internal processes and that BCC is not covering the full amount of the forest wages. This year they followed the BCC recommendation to increase the salaries by 6%, therefore the Forest budget needs to be increased. The old budget + 6% is approved for Forest total Rs. 4,61,000.
  • Housing Service: BCC began re-disbursing the budget for house repair requests (36 lakhs/year), with a first installment of 5 lakhs rupees, corresponding with amounts requested for pending house repairs.

Non-recurring budget requests

  • ACARAT: BCC noted that the further development of ACARAT is an essential part of a good database and it would strengthen the overall governance of Auroville. Therefore, the requested budget of FAMC for improvements of the database (Rs. 50,000) has been approved.
  • Blue Light: The requested budget (Rs. 34,232) to repair their e-scooter has been approved by the BCC.
  • CRIPA: The BCC allocated a special budget of Rs. 2,90,000 on request to protect the premises of Cripa by installing a new fence.
  • Deepanam School]: An additional budget (Rs. 17,760) was requested by Deepanam School to cover GST for summer repair, the BCC has approved.
  • Electrical Service: The BCC approved an annual budget of Rs. 2,77,000 to cover the total cost for tree cutting around transformers. An additional one-time tree cutting removal budget of Rs. 83,700 was approved for clearing routes of electric lines.
  • Entry Board: The BCC approved a budget request of Rs. 35,950 from the Entry Board for the installation of a new air conditioner in the Entry Service office.
  • Farm Produce: In order to support our farms whose produce distribution was impacted by lockdown and the temporary closure of the Solar Kitchen and PTDC Kitchen, the BCC agreed to reimburse Rs. 71,110, an amount corresponding to the loss of income, for the month of June.
  • Isai Ambalam Road: The BCC approved a refund of Rs. 39,269 to Isai Ambalam Guest House for advance funding the repair of the Isai Ambalam road, undertaken by the Road Service. Future road repair requests from residents should be shared with BCC before work is undertaken by Road Service, with estimates provided by Road Service.
  • Auroville Farms and Food Sustainability Film Project: Rakhal submitted a budget request of Rs. 1,39,800 for producing a documentary film project on Auroville farms, farmers and food sufficiency. As this awareness is of crucial concern to the community, BCC approved the request.
  • Library: The BCC approved a total of Rs. 2,96,000 to make the necessary repairs of the library building.
  • Nature Camp: BCC approved a budget of Rs. 2,00,000 for repairing Nature Camp in Kodai.
  • Road Service: BCC received a series of budget requests from the Road Service for repairing equipment, vehicles and Excavator. BCC approved the total budget of Rs. 2,51,017.
  • Sri Aurobindo Birthday Anniversary Celebration: The BCC approved Rs. 30,000 for the community celebration of 15th of August 2021 held at Matrimandir.
  • Sri Aurobindo’s 150th Anniversary: An initial amount of Rs. 65,000 was approved for an exhibition (Five Dreams) and the setup of the 150th website. 1.5 temporary maintenance were also allocated to be shared by the 150th team.
  • Terra Soul keet roof replacement: Terra Soul made a request for the repair of their community kitchen. Since the Housing Repairs service has a policy of only covering the repairs of common buildings, the requested budget (Rs. 62,000) was approved for direct disbursement by BCC as a Covid relief grant, given that, Terra Soul would usually be able to cover such repairs from their volunteer accommodation income.

Internal BCC team updates

  • New BCC Care member: Aurosugan (BCC) has joined the BCC Care team who handles Maintenance and Recurring Budget requests.
  • A new BCC Office member: We would like to welcome Agila who has joined the BCC office from August onwards.
  • Resignation of a BCC Office member: We sincerely appreciate the valuable contributions of Nilen to the BCC office, who resigned from the BCC Review team by the end of September.
  • BCC Office relocation in Town Hall: In August, the BCC was requested by the ATDC to free the office space we were currently occupying in the top floor of the Town Hall stating that they needed the space for their team. The ACUR (Town Hall) management team relocated office space for BCC in the Housing Service. We are grateful to Housing Service for having welcomed this adjustment.