A section of Auroville residents are protesting against a road project, named Crown Project, saying it cuts through a forested area
Written by J Sam Daniel StalinUpdated: December 10, 2021
Tempers are running high at the tranquil enclave of Auroville in Puducherry where a group of residents are protesting against the administration’s plans to build a road envisaged by Auroville founder Mirra Alfassa.
The 4-km inner ring road would connect all four zones of the model city. However, a section of residents says the road plan, named the Crown Project, cuts through a forested area called Bliss and Youth Centre. They are demanding that the plan be slightly altered keeping ecological concerns in mind.
In the latest flare-up, workers from nearby villages, who had been engaged by the administration to help in the project, allegedly roughed up a section of residents, including women. The residents allege they were attacked when they tried to stop an earth mover brought to clear the Youth Centre.
Divya, a resident, has sent a representation to Auroville Foundation, which runs Auroville. “Today, I climbed on top of the JCB which was working at the Youth Centre and asked the driver to stop the machine. The driver was scared, he would have stopped. But 20 goondas surrounding the JCB lifted me off and carried me away. Of course, in the process I got hurt physically, but that is not the point.”
“Human Unity will not be built by bringing police or goondas from villages. Neither will the city be built by this way. You all know that but at this moment are blinded by the narrative of perfect circle and sacred geometry,” she has stated.
Responding to the allegations, Auroville Foundation’s spokesperson Sindhuja Jagadeesh said, “We had engaged the workers to form a chain around the earth mover so that protesters can’t come near the machine. They are our work force from nearby villages. It is the protesters who behaved like goons. They will face the consequences.”
Citing the ecological concerns surrounding the Crown Project, a resident Suhasini Ayer said, “There is a low-lying area at the head of a watershed. We need to have a plantation and we need to work on how to protect the watershed.”
The Foundation’s stand is that the road is part of the master plan of the township as envisioned by the Auroville founder. It also said the residents were aware of the course of his road, but still went ahead and started plantations.
Sindhuja Jagadeesh said, “A feeling of land ownership and entitlement has slowly crept in among residents. At Auroville, we are stewards and not landowners. The master plan stands and we will implement it.”
The Foundation also said they will transplant trees that may need to be removed or plant fresh saplings.
Joel Van Lierde, another spokesperson for the Foundation, said, “You should know that for each tree that will be removed, four trees will be planted.”
The protesters, however, are adamant that no trees should be removed.
An experimental township, Auroville is located mostly in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district with some parts in Puducherry. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa – known as “The Mother” to her followers and designed by architect Roger Anger.
The vision behind Auroville is that it becomes a universal town where people of all countries are able to live in peace and unity by rising above creeds, politics and nationalities. While it was originally planned for about 50,000 residents, its population has hovered around 3,000 over the past few decades.
“What is going on in the name of Mother and Sri Aurobindo here in Auroville right now is a travesty. The Auroville Foundation is imposing a 20-year-old Master Plan which hasn’t been updated and whose DDPs and Implementation Plans have not even been made, using JCBs against the youth of Auroville, without even showing work orders. We are not against development, but we want development that is ecological and inclusive. Auroville is meant to be a place of human unity. This violent top-down implementation of a rigid plan, ignoring all alternatives suggested for the route, has absolutely nothing to do with human unity,” said Mita Radhakrishnan, another resident.