This morning around 7 am a hired masked mob equipped with chainsaws arrived on site in Darkali to cut the trees. These individuals refused to say who they were working for and it seems confirmed they were not working for the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) nor officially employed by the illegitimate ‘Auroville Town Development Council’ (‘ATDC’).
It seems confirmed that this mob has been hired from a nearby village through an Auroville resident closely supporting Secretary of the Auroville Foundation Jayanti Ravi. Some members of this hired mob were reportedly drunk, while they were manipulating chainsaws and dangerous machinery. Many were innocent teenagers.
Mature and rare and valuable species of trees have been cut.
The illegitimate ‘ATDC’ and other supporters of the Auroville Foundation Secretariat who were present also refused to disclose any work orders, any contract, or subcontracts. These are mandatory documents that are normally made public, as per the standard procedure.
Important update re ongoing situation at Darkali
The recent massbulletin sent by the Secretary’s parallel groups is made up of blatant distortions. The situation is as follows:
- This morning around 7 am a hired masked mob equipped with chainsaws arrived on site in Darkali to cut the trees. These individuals refused to say who they were working for and it seems confirmed they are not working for the CPWD nor officially employed by the ‘ATDC’.
- Instead, it seems confirmed that this mob has been hired from Bommaypalayam through a resident closely supporting the Secretary.
- Some members of this hired mob are reportedly drunk, while they are manipulating chainsaws and dangerous machinery.
- The ‘ATDC’ members present on site refused to explain how they are complying with the Joint Committee report. It is unfortunate that mature rare and valuable species such as Red Sanders are being cut and there are no signs of tree transplanting so far.
- The ‘ATDC’ members present also refused to disclose any work orders, any contract or subcontract. These are mandatory documents which are normally made public, as per standard procedure.
We encourage anyone who chooses to go on site to ask the following questions:
- Who is the contractor / subcontractor for clearing the trees in Darkali?
- How has this contractor been appointed?
- What is the value of the contract that has been awarded?
- Where is the work order?
- Why have some Auroville residents (Prasad, Antim, Sindhuja, Lieve, Toby and others) been on site coordinating the work while they claim to have awarded a contract to the CPWD?
- Is there any conflict of interest between them, as representatives of several groups constituted/recognized by the Office of the Secretary, and the contractor(s)?
- Why is there no public information provided about contract name, amount, etc, on an information board on site, which is mandatory for public works?
- Why has there been disrespect and manhandling of residents, including women, who came on site to ask these most elementary questions?
We continue to be in contact with authorities at all levels to try and deescalate the situation. The authorities are closely tracking the situation on the ground as things unfold.
Please stay tuned for further updates.
Your Working Committee
Aravinda, Bharathy, Chali, Hemant, Maël, Sauro, Valli
The intensity of the events at Darkali Forest yesterday was extremely distressing. 197 trees were cut down, many of which were mature, rare, or valuable. The felling of trees was carried out in a completely unprofessional and very dangerous manner. It took place even as residents on-site asked workers, some of whom were drunk while handling dangerous machinery, to stop the destruction.
The illegitimate ‘Auroville Town Development Council’ (‘ATDC’), appointed by the Auroville Foundation Secretariat and the Governing Board, began cutting trees on Thursday. Clearing took place to make way for a fanatical interpretation of the Crown Road, that for supporters of the Auroville Foundation Secretariat, must be perfectly circular no matter the cost.
The Crown Road is part of the Master Plan*, Auroville’s urban development plan. This plan is meant to be flexible and must take ground realities into account. For Darkali, these realities include a mature forest and precious water catchment areas. These leave room for a smaller road and a minor adjustment of 6 meters to the Crown Road of the Master Plan. Nonetheless, many trees were violently cut down as the result of a rigid, top-down approach to development.
2023 03 11 – Darkali- felled tree report
2023 03 11 – preliminary report of cleared width
2023 03 12 – Darkali – report of felled trees – email 1