Working Committee report for December 2022

Jan 13, 2023 | Statements by the RA and the Working groups, Uncategorized

Update & Report

December 2022

Dear residents,
We would like to update you on topics which we dealt with last month, in December 2022. Please feel free to visit or email us if you have any questions. Our Open House hours are from 10 to 12 on Tuesdays, in the former Koodam Office opposite the Auroville Library, and our email address is [email protected].

Legal matters

Rumors are circulating that the RA Working Committee has lost cases. We would like to confirm that the RA Working Committee has not lost any case. The Working Committee case is under appeal by the Secretary to the Governing Board at the Madras High Court. The FAMC case was withdrawn in order to be resubmitted (see below). We are evaluating all possibilities to take effective steps forward. We will update the community as the court proceedings go further.

The RA Working Committee regularly follows-up on legal matters with the help of resource persons. We would like to remind everyone that legal processes do take time and require patience. We fully trust the work of our lawyers and we are confident that the best results will ultimately be achieved for Auroville.

History

A history of the legal matters, and the reasons that brought the Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly to the courts, was shared in our August to October 2022 report. It can be read here.

FAMC case

On Monday 19th December 2022, the Madras High Court heard a petition that was submitted in July 2022 regarding the appointment of a new FAMC by the Office of the Secretary and the Governing Board. After careful consideration and with the advice of our legal counsel it was decided to withdraw the petition, in order to submit a new one with updated information.

Miscellaneous

In response to an unknown group of people referring to themselves as “AVF Legal” sending threatening communications to residents over the past few weeks, a massbulletin was sent out to the community on December 26th.

Land topics

Evergreen/PKS case

The last hearing of the Evergreen / Abri / Ami land-grabbing case in Tindivanam took place on 19th December, with presentations from both parties. A final judgment is awaited on 31st January.

Land exchanges

On 21st December a letter was sent jointly by the 4 working groups selected by the RA (Working Committee, FAMC, TDC and Council) to the Land Board and Secretary, with the Governing Board and International Advisory Council in copy, observing that land exchanges have been carried out and more are under negotiation with no consultation with or approval by the RA. The 4 groups have stated that under these circumstances all talks regarding land exchange must cease. Read the full letter here.
Reasons for which these Land exchanges are of grave concern have been summarized in our report for the month of November 2022.

Land Board

Also on the 21st of December, a joint letter from the RA selected Working Committee, FAMC and Council was sent to the four Aurovilian members of the Land Board. In this letter it was brought to their notice that although they were selected to be members of the Land Board via an RA approved process and are expected to work with the FAMC and Working Committee, they are not doing so and are ignoring their mandate and the trust that has been given to them by the RA. Read the full letter here.

Crown Road works and related safety issues

We wrote again to the Chairman and Members of the Governing Board on 3rd December 2022 about security and safety issues along the Crown. This was further reported in a massbulletin released on 5th December.
On the 21st of December, we further shared through a massbulletin (co-signed with the TDC selected by the RA) that “those who have dismantled all areas of the Crown currently under ‘work’ without following any proper planning, process and security standards are accountable for any accident that occurs on the dangerous pathways created by their lack of diligence”. Following an announcement by the so-called ‘ATDC’, published on 17th December and referring to the International Youth Center annual fair, we emphasized our concern that in spite of our many warnings, the so-called ‘ATDC’ refuses to acknowledge any of its responsibilities, deflecting them by blaming others and especially the youth.

Visas

Visa threats continue. Presently there are more than 70 people who have received a recommendation for less than the time for which they were eligible. Seven people’s visas have expired without receiving a proper letter of recommendation and as per our records, 62 additional residents are waiting for a recommendation letter.

We are committed to addressing these issues to the best of our capacities. We are liaising regularly with the RRO/FRRO and one of our members has recently accompanied 2 residents for separate interactions with the RRO in Pondicherry. Two of our members are themselves currently waiting for their visa renewals so we understand first-hand what people are feeling in this unsettling situation.
If you are facing any visa-related issue, please write to [email protected].

Governing Board and International Advisory Council

Compilation of letters to the GB Chairman

The letters sent by residents of Auroville to the Chairman of the Governing Board, following his speech of 7th November, were deeply touching and heartfelt. We have decided to compile these anonymously in a booklet that is available for download on this webpage. Thanks to generous donations from several residents and well-wishers we are also in the process of having printed copies in full color made to place at several locations of Auroville, as well as sending one copy to the Chairman of the GB, Shri R.N. Ravi and a copy to Dena Merriam as Chairperson of the IAC. In addition, printed copies for wider distribution will be available soon.

62nd meeting of the Governing Board

The 62nd meeting of the Governing Board took place on 27th December 2022, in Raj Bhavan (Chennai). The RA Working Committee was not informed about nor invited to this meeting. The agenda of this meeting and its minutes are yet to be communicated to us or shared with the Residents’ Assembly. The Minutes of Meeting (MoM) for the 60th and the 61st meetings of the Governing Board have still not been shared with us nor with the Residents’ Assembly in spite of our requests to them to do so.
We encourage residents to contact the Office of the Secretary to the Governing Board, either in-person or via email ([email protected]n, [email protected], [email protected] ), requesting for these MoM to be published. Kindly forward us any email exchange you have with the Office of the Secretary in this regard.

International Advisory Council (IAC)

We have been in communication with Dena Merriam, Chairperson of the IAC, who has expressed concern about the Visa situation in Auroville and has offered to try to help address it with the Secretary. In spite of the efforts Dena Merriam has reported having made in that direction, there seems to be no change as of today in the attitude and modus operandi of the Office of the Secretary with regards to Visas.
Members of the RA Working Committee also met with Michel Danino, Member of the IAC, during his stay in Auroville, and spoke at length about the situation that Auroville is facing.

Communications with the GB, IAC and AVF Secretariat

Our communications with the GB, IAC and AVF Secretariat for the month of December 2023 can be found here.

Register of Residents (RoR)

Entering of new Aurovilians into the RoR

We have not heard back from the Office of the Secretary in regards to the approximately 130 Aurovilians who have completed their Entry Process but are still waiting to be added to the RoR. In the meanwhile, we have clarified in a massbulletin jointly signed with the Auroville Council that the status of those having been accepted by the Residents’ Assembly, through its Newcomer process and by its Entry Board (aka Admissions Committee), cannot be undermined by a lack of diligence from the Office of the Secretary in carrying out what is simply an administrative task. Aurovilians who have been “confirmed” in the News and Notes are members of the Auroville community and are welcome to participate in Residents’ Assembly Decision-making processes.

RoR update

We note that the job of ‘updating’ the RoR is still not completed and there have been a number of reports of residents having to fill out the forms multiple times because their previous submissions had been lost. We thank all of you for your patience and cooperation with this exercise in spite of the fact that the grounds for the necessity of it – that it has not been updated since 2005 – are false, for which we have proof. We also note with dismay that the Office of the Secretary seems to focus all its efforts on tasks which are not under its mandate or purview rather than on those that are discharged to it under the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988.

Media and Communication

Difficulties publishing in News and Notes

It was recently brought to our attention that a notice was sent to the News and Notes team by the GB FAMC, GB ATDC and those impersonating the Working Committee, threatening the News and Notes team with legal action if they publish anything from “irresponsible people”, i.e. the RA selected working groups. This seems to have been agreed by the News and Notes team since to date, two recent requests from us to publish notices were ignored. Please find the notices here and here. Although we have had two submissions recently accepted by the News and Notes team, in both cases our signature was amended by the editors to remove our official designation.
We hope the editorial team of this long-standing community communication platform will reconsider this decision and continue to publish communications from all groups, in a spirit of fairness and neutrality, as is to be expected with journalistic ethics.

Visiting journalists and press

It is important to ensure that the perspective of the residents are heard and considered by visiting journalists and press. If you know of any visiting journalist or press-related person, kindly put us in touch by writing to [email protected] and [email protected]. We regularly suggest visiting journalists to also meet with those appointed by the Secretary, for both perspectives to be fairly represented. We expect the same courtesy in return.

Massbulletins

A folder with all the massbulletins we have sent or participated in for the month of December 2022 can be found at this link.
We remind everyone that the new massbulletin by and for the Residents’ Assembly can be received by writing to [email protected].

Ongoing: internal communications being blocked

There continues to be a block between the @auroville.org.in email domain and the @auroville.services domain, and the RA Working Committee continues to be blocked from posting its announcements on Auronet. We are still looking into alternatives.

Miscellaneous

If you have any suggestion in regards to communications and how we could improve on the matter, please contact us at [email protected] and [email protected]. Also, if you have a willingness to help us in organizing webinars or community events, please let us know!

Databases of Auroville assets

Over the past years, Auroville has developed two databases to manage information about its communal assets and administration: HouMan (for housing purposes) and ACARAT (for units, trusts and services, as well as land and planning). Those who had created these databases were recently threatened by the anonymous and unrecognized group “AVF Legal”. The RA Working Committee has taken all necessary measures to ensure that these precious databases would remain under the management of the Residents’ Assembly and its bonafide working groups.

Maintenances & budgets

Members of the RA Working Committee, as well as members of other RA Working Groups, have received an intimation that their bridging maintenances would be cut off at the end of December. Some of the individual replies that were sent in response to these intimations can be found here and here.

Alternatives are being explored to help cover expenses of essential community services which are no longer receiving their budget and maintenances from the City Services fund, and financial help is welcome. Please contact the RA BCC at [email protected] with your suggestions and/or willingness to offer support.

Other matters

Covid & International flights

The rules for international arrivals have changed once again and the new guidelines can be
found here.

Certificates and administrative documents

The Office of the Secretary continues to refuse to recognise our legitimacy and therefore does not accept recommendations for visa extensions and new visa applications from us. However, we are still able to issue certificates of residence, death certificates and other administrative documents, and we can offer experienced advice and support for various legal and administrative processes. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by email ([email protected]) or stop by our office during our Open House time, Tuesdays from 10 to 12.

Conflict resolution

One of our members is part of the CRP3 (Conflict Resolution Policy, Section 3. See policy document attached) team which is made up of members of the Council, Working Committee, Mattram, AVSST (Auroville Safety and Security Team) and resource persons from the community at large. Members of the Internal Complaints Committee (dealing with cases of sexual harassment) and the Auroville Child Protection teams are also consulted and included as needed. This team addresses conflicts that specifically involve violence in different forms with the aim to de-escalate tensions and emotions, provide support to those involved and try to work out short and long term solutions. This team can be contacted by sending an email to [email protected].

Safety & Security

We are regularly dealing with various cases related to the safety and security of Auroville residents and volunteers, jointly with the appropriate groups and services. As and when required, coordination with the police is also being done thanks to some of our members, to our liaison officer, and to additional resource persons.

Interactions with other working groups

We continue to attend weekly joint meetings with the Auroville Council, the RA FAMC and the RA TDC. Additionally, we have other joint meetings with some of these groups as and when needed, and we liaise with other groups dealing with topics such as sexual harassment, child protection and conflict resolution.

Meetings with central, state and local officials

The RA Working Committee and its resource persons have attended various meetings with central, state and local officials for relationship building and to address several issues. We are grateful for the efforts of our liaison officer and other resource persons for actively helping us to maintain and establish useful contacts with officials at all levels.

Housing issues

More cases of harassment involving the Secretary’s ‘Housing Service’ have been reported to us, including a case related to a youth housing project in Surrender community. If you are impacted or know anyone that is, please contact the FAMC selected by the RA ([email protected]) and the Housing Board ([email protected])

Survey on restorative processes between RA, GB and IAC

A short survey for residents to fill out was launched in October 2022 and received about 230 submissions. The survey was closed at the beginning of December and a first analysis of the results will be shared very shortly.

Wednesdays for Auroville

Working Committee members continue to attend these meetings as a presence and to give updates as needed and requested.

Contact information and open house timings

Some of our members are present every Tuesday from 10 to 12 noon in our office (no 1 Crown road, opposite Auroville Library) to receive queries, suggestions and comments from community members. In addition, feel free to send us any questions, concerns and suggestions you may have by writing to [email protected].

Office hours

Our office is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm, and from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

***

In the current climate, the task of the Working Committee is arduous and sometimes discouraging, but we are resolved to stand strong, collectively. We are grateful to be a real team in which all of us complement each other and enjoy working and being together, in spite of the challenging circumstances. We thank all those who express their support, encouragement and care – this means a lot to us.

We continue to dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the mandate given to us by the Residents’ Assembly, for the co-creation and manifestation of Mother’s Dream.

In community,

Your Working Committee
Aravinda, Bharathy, Chali, Hemant, Maël, Sauro, Valli

WCom report for December 2022.pdf