Friday afternoon and Saturday morning a JCB accompanied by an engineer from the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and a survey team started clearing a 2.5m wide path between the trees through Existence forest towards Bliss forest. This bulldozing of understory forest regeneration is the first step in creating cycle paths that have been proposed by Dr Anupama Kundoo and are being implemented by the CPWD on instructions from the Auroville Foundation Office (AVFO) Secretary.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed that a proper township plan and environmental clearance need to be in place before further construction can be undertaken in Auroville. This stay on construction includes the clearing and creation of new rights of ways, including cycle paths, which can only be properly planned for alongside housing, economic, environmental and cultural needs and tested through the environmental impact assessment process.
The AVFO and those collaborating with them are acting in clear contempt of the NGT judgment. In addition, this unauthorised clearance is implemented on the basis of invalid appointments & contracts, undisclosed and incomplete plans arrived at without participation of the Residents Assembly and is generally devoid of basic sense, process or decency.
The CPWD engineer confirmed that they do not have environmental clearance and are only in the process of applying now, apparently based on ‘detailed plans produced by Dr Anupama’ which were not available on-site, or anywhere else. His colleague later confirmed that the process could take 6-12 months, and neither he, nor Prasad (so-called ‘ATDC’ member) could confirm or verify whether they even had the basic plans necessary to start the process. We have confirmed that no application has been processed by the appropriate authorities.
Cycle-paths will of course be needed in the right place and time as part of the building of this unique universal township, trees will need to be cut, difficult choices will need to be made – but they will be made consciously, and together.
The overriding concern is not the bulldozing, it is the violent and authoritarian approach which has no place in Auroville and is itself the most significant barrier preventing a joyful and timely realisation of the ‘City the Earth Needs’.
Mr Madhi, AVFO vigilance officer, and now the so called ‘ATDC’ recognised by the Governing Board have threatened those who object to and prevent these unplanned, unlawful and unauthorised works by first demanding proof of the ‘required compliance’ which they claim to have. We will continue to challenge the senseless destruction, lies and threats and we welcome any support you can provide, in peaceful presence, in collective actions and in working with us as we take up the proper planning of the township in a conscious and holistic way.
L’avenir d’Auroville – TDC Town Development Council
Allan B, Anan, Dorle, Divya L, Fabian, Island, Lata, Meera N, Natasha S, Tom G