News & Notes 923:Minutes of the Forest Group meeting 06.05.2022 in Eternity
Minutes of the Forest Group meeting 06.05.2022 in Eternity
Present: Vinny (Hermitage), Arun (Revelation), Noe (Mango Field), Rita (Center Field), Archana.B (Siddhartha Forest), D.Segar (Naidal), Kumar (Adventure), V.Boobalan (Siddartha Forest), Vengadesh (Abri), Giri Thirumal (Fertile East), David (Aurodam), Jeanluc (Revelation), Hans (Abri), Island (Espace), Forest (Nilatangam), Manolo (Bliss, Espace), Leela (Anusuya), Alex (Fertile), Vikram (Infinity), Jessamijn (Udumbu), Anan (Eternity), Jonah (Eternity), Jitta (Eternity), Bernardo (Evergreen), Mani (Samriddhi), Edzard (Discipline).
The events that have taken place in Eternity in April and May were explained in detail to the Forest group, this is a summary: On the 14th of April, bulldozers started clearing the Eternity fence (encroaching Auroville land), directed by a local MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly). No work orders were shown, and no information has been found about which body is authorizing this work. There was also no prior notification that this work was going to be carried out. Discussions, police complaints, police interventions, and efforts from Land Board and WC were unable to fully stop the clearing of the fence. Finally on the 16th of April the work was stopped by the Senior Superintendent of Police and a government survey of the boundaries was scheduled. In 2010 a government survey already took place in Eternity which concluded the location of all the cornerstones and boundaries. The new survey was completed on the 3rd of May, and the results do not come to the same conclusion as the 2010 survey, and according to the new survey, the South East corner stone was moved by 4 meters into Eternity.
The support provided from the Auroville administrative groups to tackle this situation was not as strong as it should be in these kinds of situations where an Auroville asset and Aurovilians are in danger. Eternity is now missing more than 600 mts of fence line, the forest is exposed, people are coming in from the beach and the residents are exposed. There were numerous threats made by the MLA entourage towards the stewards of Eternity and the entire process of clearing and the interactions were violent and abusive.
The presence of Aurovilians when called upon to support the stewards was very helpful. In the future, please call for help to the wider community as soon as possible when incidents like these occur. Do not wait until the situation escalates.
The Forest Group needs to obtain and have all FMBs of forest areas at hand, in order to prevent encroachment incidents as they occur in the future.
Eternity requested the FG for support by providing an extra budget for a worker to replant and work on the live fence line over the next few years. This request was approved and will be facilitated.
BCC is in the process of allocating funds to the Land Board to cover the cost of materials for a new fence.
Eternity requested for the Auroville nurseries to prepare 2000 mullu and fence appropriate seedlings for the next planting seasons for Eternity.
Forest Group Secretary
A secretary for the forest group is an essential role which needs to be taken up by somebody as soon as possible. Currently a few individuals take up secretarial roles as and when required, but this approach has its disadvantages. The Forest Group will look into this and find the appropriate way forward.
Segar and Naidal Forest
Segar again asked for the stewardship of the Northern Forests of Auroville (NFA) Ridge Top Sanctuary. An email was sent to the Forest Group by the NFA stewards after this topic was discussed at the last Forest Group meeting. The email clarified that the NFA sanctuary is currently being collectively stewarded by members of the NFA (Achilles, Jan, Jana, Rishi, Island, Shanti, Enea, Balu, Andrey, Vikram) and is recognized as such by the Forest Group and FAMC. There is no need for a change of stewardship since the forest is already being properly maintained and its management experiments with an interesting new approach of collectively working and looking after forest areas.
Island clarified that Segar was involved in caretaking of the NFA sanctuary and nursery in the past, but he and the rest of the team were unable to work together harmoniously and in the end he stopped working there. As members of the Forest Group we need to have more accountability and keep records of situations like these as they develop, for future reference.
The Forest Group, recognising Segar's hard work over the last few years in various Auroville forests, supports him in finding a different more appropriate piece of land where he can work and start his stewardship process following the established forest stewardship criteria.
Noe informed the Forest Group that our site on the Explorer.land website is ready to be published and requested feedback and for the group to approve the site. A date for the publishing will be announced and if there are no strong objections then it will be published. Foresters’ objections to having their stewarded area on the map will be respected. There will be opportunities for people to volunteer to help maintain the site and the blog if it gets published.
Forest Group Surveys
Noe has been organizing the surveys of Auroville’s forests and this initiative will continue after his departure. Alex, Natasha, Jaap, Sivaganesh, Sivasankaran, Ancolie, Island and Glenn are part of the survey team.
David mentioned that there is an 8% wage increase in Tamil Nadu this year and inquired about the Forest Group budget increase for this year. Information about this is not yet available as the BCC is still working on the revised Auroville budget.
We ended the meeting with a minute of silence for Luigi.
The next Forest Group meeting will be at Hermitage on the 3rd of June.