Tamil Nadu

Aurovillians continue with protest against road laying, work halted

Aurovillians protest against road laying for the Crown Project in Auroville in Villupuram district on December 5, 2021. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Residents of Auroville continued with their protest in the wee hours of Sunday as the Town Development Council (TDC) and the Auroville Foundation again brought in earthmovers and cleared a few metres for laying of a road for the Crown Project. The work was again stopped due to protests.

The project envisages the establishment of four zones — industrial, cultural, residential and recreational — growing radially out of the Matrimandir. The Town Development Council has been tasked with evolving an action plan for the project.

The impasse between the protesting residents and the TDC has been continuing as the Resident Assembly has suggested an alternative route for the project.

According to a member of Auroville’s Resident Assembly, “We are just asking that community process be followed. There is a process in which we make decisions as a community and which is approved in the Resident Assembly. This process has not been followed and they (Auroville Foundation) keep saying that we are blocking development.”

Residents of Auroville protesting against the clearing for trees for laying of road for the Crown Project in Auroville in the wee hours of December 6, 2021.

Residents of Auroville protesting against the clearing for trees for laying of road for the Crown Project in Auroville in the wee hours of December 6, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


She added: “On the contrary we are not actually blocking development. We have made proposals and want to discuss them as a community. But they are refusing to discuss it and instead bulldozing their way through. The Town Development Council are dividing some members of our Working Group together with the Foundation.”

According to her, “The TDC brought in earthmovers on Saturday to clear trees for laying the road and we blocked them. The Resident Community has made it clear that we cannot allow any work till we sit down and discuss. Without any notification or consent at 1 a.m. again they sent earthmovers with the police this time and blocked the roads so that we could not reach the venue.”

“Though Aurovillians managed to reach the place, the damage had already been done. We are not trying to impose our view. All we want is go through a process and whatever the collective decides, we will go through. There are a few persons in power who are not cooperating and causing a lot of havoc” alleged another member of the Assembly.

According to an Aurovillian, “the Foundation organised everything beforehand and brought in police to the contentious place. The police intimidated and dragged the protestors and tried to take them int the police vehicle.”

He saw this as a typical conflict between “faithful and reason”. The former, he said, believe that the road has to be built whatever cost because this is what The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) had endorsed for the Master Plan while the other group is of the opinion that it is difficult to build the city in this manner.

“We are not against the Road but only suggest to change the routes since it is not environmental friendly. The way the Foundation has been acting against the residents with the police is not acceptable. The two groups can disagree on opinions but violence is not acceptable,” he said.

When contacted Superintendent of Police N. Shreenatha clarified that no police personnel manhandled any resident of Auroville. “They decided to lay the road and requested for police protection. They had cleared a few metres in the early hours of today when the residents again protested and the work was halted,” he said.

(The Hindu has reached out to Members of the Auroville Foundation Governing Board. The copy will be updated if a response is received.)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 12:14:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aurovillians-continue-with-protest-against-road-laying-work-halted/article37849278.ece

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