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Auroville First Post

I am not a believer of the Crown Road: what we need is spiritual tourism in Auroville, people who come today from Chennai, Bangalore and further seem, for most for them, to be interested in the restaurants, the cafés, booze and the hep side of Auroville. A Crown Road with more restaurants, shops, will only add more burden. What I observe now also, living outside the so-called Master Plan, is that Auroville never had the vision to buy buffer lands, and control the access roads, when it was cheap to do so. As a result, the 15,000 people that the Secretary wants to cram into 3 sq km, on high rise buildings, which will need millions of tons of concrete will be choked all around by promoters, hotels, restaurants, that have nothing to do with Auroville. Auroville has a lot of land, and what is needed now is to open these lands to young newcomers, and let them build and plant whatever they want, even bamboo and thatch roof houses, so that not only some of the earlier pioneer spirit comes back to Auroville, but that also they act as guardians on all the four corners of the actual living Auroville, which stretches from the beaches to the lake on one side, and from the Pondicherry University to Toujours Mieux on the other. So what is required is a vaster plan, that includes all the existing communities and lands of Auroville, even though one can still preserve the inner city around the Matrimandir. But to ask every newcomer to buy flats which are 50-60 lakhs rupees  is completely senseless ans restricts access and interest of the youth. Roger’s plan was conceived in the 60s, when there was little awareness about environment, technology, water scarcity, etc. What we see in the West today is that architects go away from huge 30-40 storey buildings to make smaller ones, integrated in nature, and I do think that Auroville needs to follow that lead, knowing that concrete is not the best solution for water management and ages badly in India with heat and humidity. Also, we need to understand that India is developing fast, we already had to fight a 6-lane highway that was crossing parts of Auroville, and I’m sure that other projects will come up, such as railways, airports, roads, etc., and we need to protect Auroville, and get some recognition as a green zone or forested area that will stop promoters and developers from buying land in and around Auroville. For that again, a vaster plan approved by the government is needed - I had broached the subject when I fought against the 6-lane highways but it was quickly forgotten. 

 

I liked the secretary Jayanti Ravi, and I know her from before, when Kireet Joshi was the Gujarat education secretary. Auroville is not Gujarat though, and I had warned her 6 months ago that if she was cutting trees, Aurovillians would sit in front of bulldozers and she might have to call the police, which is what happened. I think she has the support of Narendra Modi, whom she knew pretty well when he was Gujarat Chief Minister, and also of the governor of  Tamil Nadu, Mr Ravi, who is also the Chairman of Auroville. She has lost face when her bulldozers were stopped and a stay order from the Green Tribunal froze the cutting of trees. Thus, she decided to continue the confrontation, using even the visa weapon against foreigners which is VERY WRONG. I just went to Delhi and had meets with the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Gauba, the Home Secretary, Mr Bhalla and the Joint Secretary Foreigners to warn them about what she is doing. I think it’s a mistake, because it’ll attract media attention: there are as many Indians as Westerners among the protestors, and if anybody is put in jail, Modi will drop her like a hot stone. On top of that, support comes from the BJP, and at the moment the leadership in Tamil Nadu is DMK, which doesn’t like the centre, the BJP, and Hindi-speaking people. 

 

At the same time, I think she has forced Aurovillians to come out of their comfort zones, Auroville was stratified into bureaucratic working groups, the youth was nowhere to be seen, and today we see that Aurovillans woke up, they are more unified, and the youth is at the forefront of the battle. So I do think it is positive, and I am sure The Mother is using all these for the betterment of Auroville and Her dream.

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