Report on Darkali Work and Obstructions

Report of the work at Darkali, Auroville on 9th & 11th March and the Unfortunate Obstructions caused by some residents

The ATDC began work of clearing the Crown path on the morning of 9th March in accordance with the authorization given by the Joint Commission as per the NGT directive.

Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC) was constituted by the Governing Board under  Section 16 and 17(e ) of the Auroville Foundation Act 1988. The ATDC began assisting the CPWD team in the clearing of the Crown path and began the work of cutting the trees on 9th March in the Darkali area in strict accordance with the report of the Joint Committee, using local workers and chainsaws, so that the Crown Road, being built by CPWD, may be completed.

Very soon, this was obstructed by a set of people who have been holding up this work for decades. People came on the work site, unauthorized, and began placing their bodies in between the chainsaws and the trees, to physically obstruct the work as well as putting themselves and the workers in immense danger. There is also photo evidence that they took away a chain saw and sat on it. One of the obstructers had put her hand in the way of the chainsaw, nearly causing an extreme incident. The work could not continue due this severe law and order situation given the lack of women police forces as most of the people obstructing were women.

On the 11th March, a group of 50 men and women were organized to clear the trees and help in warding off the obstructionists and allow the men subcontracted by the CPWD to do their work of clearing the Crown path.

As video records show, once again, these women pounced on a worker to grab his chainsaw, a very dangerous act, while the man tried to get his machine back. All this while, another woman accused him falsely of being drunk, even though a member of the ATDC could be heard saying he was a worker trying to do his work, not a drunk. Such methods of false accusations are well known in certain types of activism.

The phone of the ATDC member was grabbed and thrown away (also on video record) and it was only after one person from the Auroville Foundation arrived that the phone could be recovered.

The women were then placed between the workers and the obstructing women so that the work could be carried out. The trees listed by the Joint Committee have been cleared. Those that are to be transplanted will be done next week by the CPWD with special machines that are required for such work.

It is of great dishonor to Auroville to see the kind of messages being circulated by the so called RA-WCom that continues to discredit and defy all process and everyone except itself and heap false and sometimes infantile accusations to provoke fear mongering, more confusion and division on which it thrives. Their letter is even signed with the name of a member who received a Leave India notice and is out of the country.

Some examples of the dramatic accusations include: “a hired masked mob equipped with chainsaws” who “refused to say who they were working for” or that “some members of this hired mob are reportedly drunk”

Let us be clear: chainsaw operators usually cover their nose and mouth to avoid the flying debris. They are not masked men. They are not required to answer questions regarding who they were working for in the face of aggression. Nor were they drunk and they continued to work hard and effectively though the morning once work could resume.

The OSD, Auroville Foundation, Mr Palani, was similarly aggressed by this group demanding that he show the work order and answer questions without any intention to help the work, only to obstruct it.

The stories that have multiplied across social media and other reports, vehemently paint the ATDC and the Auroville Foundation, Governing Board and the Secretary with a black brush, accusing them of all wrong doing.

Auroville has waited for nearly three decades to see the Crown manifest. Every time it has met with the same severe resistance and obstructions by a faction, specially continuous and systematic since December 2021. It now pushes new and young people, mostly women, that too, mostly Indian women on the front ranks, while the main players stay invisible to create more false accusations  about human rights, saving the environment and start new court cases.

Auroville needs to break away from this vicious cycle of obstructions, extravagant lies and fear mongering that has vitiated the atmosphere and move towards a constructive, harmonious and imaginative realization of the city.

The Working Committee & the Auroville Town Development Council

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