The Master Plan
The Master Plan
The Master Plan was prepared and ratified by the Residents Assembly on July 28, 1999. It was then sent to the Governing Board which formally approved it with some changes and presented to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in February 2001. This version of the Master Plan was called ‘The Auroville Universal Township Master Plan: Perspective 2025’, and was gazetted by the Auroville Foundation several years later on August 16, 2010.
The gazetted Master Plan differed from the approved Master Plan of 1999 in one major aspect, that of road widths and sections.
The Master Plan is based on the Galaxy concept prepared in 1968 by Roger Anger who was appointed by the Mother as the chief architect of Auroville. The Galaxy concept incorporates her sketch of the four zones for the city – residential, cultural, industrial and international. The city has a peace area in the centre with Matrimandir (the soul of Auroville) and is surrounded by a green belt.
The Master Plan clearly states in its Preamble, that it:
‘provides a policy framework which will serve as a guide in the preparation of five-year Development Plans and Annual Plans for implementation of proposals.’
Elsewhere in the same document, it is stated that:
‘The Planning Group will be responsible for the preparation of the five Year detailed Development Plans followed by Annual Plans and Layout Plans/Detailed Schemes. The implementation and monitoring of the project will be the responsibility of the concerned AV group through their project leaders. The overall co-ordination and monitoring of the work will be the responsibility of the Planning Group.’
‘Development and Environmental activities will be strengthened through a participatory Environmental Management process which will be integrated within all development, planning and urban design elements.’
Several planning groups with 3 yr. terms under different names such as The Development Group, Auroville Planning and Development Committee, l’Avenir d’Auroville have been working on the Planning and Development of Auroville. The members of these groups were selected by the RA under the prevailing selection processes.
In 2011, the GB issued a Standing Order to constitute the Town Development Council (TDC) in consultation with the RA through the Working Committee for the purpose of implementing the Master Plan which includes
1) planning, developing and building of the Township,
2) socio economic planning and development,
3) implementing and monitoring of development plans and
4) mobilizing resources and funding the planning and development of the Township.
The Standing Order stated that:
The TDC shall consist of a maximum of 15 members nominated by the RA through the WC from amongst the residents. 13 members would represent functional areas such as town planning, urban design and so on, and 2 members will be nominated by the GB and the WC. The TDC will have three office-bearers – one Chairperson, one Member-Secretary and one member in-charge of Finance and Accounts.
The GB nominated Sh. BV. Doshi as its nominee to the TDC. The TDC was free to elect the office-bearers from themselves. The term of office of a member was 4 yrs. The GB also constituted a TDC Advisory Group (TAG) to advise the GB and TDC on the preparation of Detailed Development Plans. The TDC was accountable to the GB through the WC and was required to publish annual reports on progress.
Office Orders were issued based on the Standing Order to constitute the TDC with members selected by the RA and recommended by the WC.
The “Master Plan Perspective 2025”
The Master plan is a document that was created to obtain for Auroville the protection it needs for its development. It was always meant to be followed by a Detailed Development Planning (DDP).
The Master Plan
The document is not a tool for “implementation”. It only provides a policy framework.
The Master plan perspective 2025 provides a policy framework that will serve as a guide in the preparation of 5 years development plans and annual plans for implementation of the proposals. Part one describes the existing scenario and lays down the imperatives for development. Part two lays down principles and directions for long-term growth and gives development proposals to make Auroville the most eco-friendly city. It lays down broad policies in terms of land utilization, residential densities, and qualitative and quantitative aspects of infrastructure development. Part three gives the development promotion regulations and the procedure to be adopted for development (Master plan official document gazetted, 1.1.2)
Although the Master plan perspective 2025 indicates a time horizon of 25 years, it will neither be traditional nor static and rigid. In the framework of perspective 2025, the planning group would prepare a detailed five years development plan containing the priority items to be taken up for development as given in table 22 (Master plan official document gazetted, 2.11.1 )
After the inception of the project in Feb. 1968, there were several attempts to derive a working master plan from the galaxy concept that would allow for the incremental development of the city as the population and activities grew. However, due to a combination of factors like lack of secure capital; inability to consolidate the land for the township; slow growth rate of the resident population; change in the world view of what embodies the essence of the ‘future’ from visually exciting to environmentally responsible; and finally, the change in the socio-political situation of India from socialism to a free-market democracy, has changed the background scenario.
In the years 1999-2000, Auroville produced a master plan document to invite the Government of India to recognize the project’s uniqueness and value, ‘Auroville Universal Township – master plan 2025’. This was presented to the Ministry of Urban Development. The land-use plan proposed in this document as a table (‘Auroville Universal Township – master plan 2025’; p. 17) and the proposed land use of the township (‘Auroville Universal Township – master plan 2025’; DRG 6) follows the four zones.
Suitability Analysis and Proposed Land Use (Master Plan)
What would the purpose of a land-use plan be?
- To have a public policy encompassing various disciplines which seek to order and regulate land use in an efficient and ethical way, thus preventing land-use conflict.
- Manage the development of land within its jurisdiction.
- Plan for the needs of the community while safeguarding natural resources.
- Provide the base information to prepare the urban planning guidelines, including transportation networks, to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities.
What are the operating principles for this proposed land use plan for Auroville?
Land resources and ecosystem services
1. Incorporate ecosystem services outputs for long-term sustainability of the project Geophysical features
- Surface water management- prevent sedimentation and pollution of water bodies
- Groundwater resources – conservation and prevention of pollution
- Urban surface water harvesting systems with bio-swales and ponds
- Avoid land use and development that will cause perturbations in ecosystem services
- Conservation of productive areas and soil nutrients
- Identify and protect areas with remarkable trees and contiguous vegetation, especially existing forests and edge ecosystems
- Protect productive soil areas with forest/farms and open spaces • Linking of continuity of land use/green cover for movement of fauna
Sustainable urban development strategies
- Mobility as a function of services and densities
- Solar-passive and active systems integrated into urban planning
- Activity networking with mixed zoning for optimum infrastructure development
- Cultural capacity (quality of life)
- Auroville Charter/international city dedicated to human unity, education, innovation, and research
- Value existing land use by integrating existing networks and interdependency
- Provide for co-evolution with development in the region
- Socio-economic opportunity for sustainable growth
2. Informed by the proposed zones & roads (MP 2025/2001) based on the galaxy concept for the township
3. Provide for sustainable networks between – developed and open spaces mobility and function services and densities
4. Integrate the cultural capacity (quality of life) and interdependency between Auroville and the region
This master plan is based on the notion of Galaxy, which is a concept created by the renowned French architect Roger Anger appointed by The Mother to design the city of Auroville, based on her original 1965 conception. Roger Anger provided to The Mother several drawings as a concept for the city. The drawing called ” The Galaxy ” received the blessing of The Mother.)
Roger Anger has provided a concept: the Galaxy with a list of non “negotiables” for the town planning and development which is part of the mandate of l’Avenir. (group appointed by The Resident Assembly to coordinate the work on Planning and Development).
A model of this concept was presented to the Mother for her blessings. The galaxy proposal was built into a model that was to scale in terms of the horizontal plane or x-axis, but in order to create a visual/tactile experience, the built volumes were exaggerated on the y-axis; tweaked to 3-4 times the actual scale, providing a visual appeal that a real-scale model could not have captured. This animation, with visual enhancement, uses cultural-spiritual-mental imprinting to connect through association, in the minds of most people, the celestial imagery of the skies, stars, and galaxies with vastness and movement, communicating a sense of the ‘future’ and ‘spiritual’ at the same time. Thus, this model as a concept for the city was a success in visual branding and promotion.
Some of the Studies
Here is a compilation of studies proposed over the years but never submitted to the community for approval so as to be implemented.
Auroville crown way study: past, present & future: September 2021. This study includes the earlier work done with Dr. B. V. Doshi (see Development & Planning).
This lays out the existing ground realities and present uses. Based on this it also lays out what is suitable (proposed uses) and a rough timeline. This is for the different sections along the full stretch of 4.36 km of the Crown as it passes through various human and physical geographies of Auroville.
Dreamcatchers is a forum that aims to call down and synthesise different aspects of Mother’s Dream for Auroville.
The Dream Catchers are an expanding forum for heart-storming ideas and pertinent questions, leading to a richer, wider, all-encompassing vision of Auroville through the elaboration of the Galaxy concept.
Dr. B.V. Doshi’s studies in collaboration with Auroville architects and planners.