Protests over development project puts Auroville management in spot

Meanwhile, Villupuram MP D Ravikumar on Monday wrote to Chief Minister MK Stalin urging him to intervene and safeguard peace in Auroville.

VILLUPURAM: After protests by a group of Auroville residents against recent development activities in the township and alleged felling of trees for the project, the Auroville Foundation public relations team requested mediapersons to avoid covering the events.

“We kindly ask the media to hold off from covering the current events taking place in Auroville, while the community finds a peaceful way forward. We will be in touch with the media in near future, when we will be in a position to best meet your needs,” read a statement from Outreach Media.

Sources at Auroville township said on condition of anonymity, “The foundation and Town Development Council took a decision on their own without following the community process. Usually, decisions will be made as a community and it’s mandatory to get approval from the Resident Assembly. This process wasn’t followed.”

A resident clarified that they do not intend to block any kind of development work in Auroville, but are only requesting that an alternative way be chosen as many trees may be cut down for the Crown Way project. Trees have already been cut down with the support of police, he rued.

A press statement from the opposing group stated that Auroville Foundation cordoned off the entry points to the Youth Centre and police manhandled and detained youth staying there. The entry of Aurovillians who tried to reach the project site was blocked by police on Sunday, the group said.

A senior police official from Auroville police station however said protection was provided based on Auroville Foundation’s request, but there was no detention or manhandling. As protestors lay on the road to block a bulldozer’s path, they were cleared, he said.

Meanwhile, Auroville Foundation members rejected the allegations. They said, “Based on Mother’s (Mirra Alfassa) vision, a master plan was made as per law and approval was received from the Central government in 2010. It was accepted by the Residents Assembly as early as 1999. We need to undertake various projects but are not even able to install high tension electric wires here. Due to lack of development, instead of 50,000 residents, there are only 3,000 now. Many are supporting our initiative and only a few oppose it.”  

It should be mentioned that, a couple of months back, the Centre had nominated Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi as chairman of the reconstituted Governing Board of Auroville Foundation, with Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan as a board member. The first meeting of the new board was held in November, where it was decided to speed up pending projects.  

Meanwhile, Villupuram MP D Ravikumar on Monday wrote to Chief Minister MK Stalin urging him to intervene and safeguard peace in Auroville.


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