‘Development in Auroville Should Not Happen at the Cost of Ecological Balance’

'We are not against the Crown Project, but it should not disturb the eco-sensitive zone'

My Report
4 min read

The Quint DAILY

For impactful stories you just can’t miss

By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy

Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor:
Rajbir Singh

What comes to your mind when you hear of Auroville? A sustainable city in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district? But it isn't just that! The area that everyone sees, wasn't so 55 years ago. It was a barren land and it became sustainable only because of the idea of realising human unity.

For the last week or so, this idea seems to be under threat.

On 9 December, we woke up to an overwhelming scene at Auroville. JCB earthmovers were brought to the Darkali Forest by the Auroville Foundation, which is run by the central government, to uproot the trees for the construction of ring road, called Crown Road, around the city.


As residents of the city, we were in utter shock and disbelief! Trees that took years to grow, forests that took decades to come up were being destroyed by giant machines. Without giving a second thought, we protested around the earthmovers to stop the destruction.

Aurovillians protesting against the uprooting of trees 

"There was a general agreement that this crown corridor, which is a 75-metre-wide circular corridor that runs across the town is for different activities like park, recreation cultural, educational, and residential (purposes). Within the crown, there is something which is called the Right of Way, which is 16-metre wide. And within that 16-metre-wide, Right of Way, there is a 6-metre road. Residents and the caretakers of Darkali Forest (in Auroville) suggested that roads should be according to the environmental needs and realities of today. They asked if the roads can meander and save as many trees as possible and can respect the watersheds and ponds which have been created over time."
Hemant, Resident

The same issue came with the Youth Centre. There have been meetings and discussions around the development of the centre into vocational skill training centres. Everyone was in agreement with the plan and then arrived the JCBs. It started removing trees and building on the Right of Way at the Youth Centre and the adjoining forest.

An earthmover uprooting trees in Auroville

"When people came here to see what’s going on and walked this path, where the road is planned, and when they saw the alternative proposal (of the road) is just a few metres away, everyone was in shock. When there is a possibility to build the road here, why go through such a beautiful forest? There is a powerful force of oppression that is not listening to the voices of the people but is coming in and bulldozing their way through."
Natasha, Resident

As residents, we are aware that there is a master plan, which includes this Crown Project, for Auroville that was suggested in 1999. But the foundation needs to understand that since then, a lot of developments have taken place to preserve the ecology of the region.

Aurodam, a water catchment in the Auroville forest

We have had more than seven-and-a-half feet of rain in the last one month, but I haven’t heard anything being flooded. This is because of watershed management. We have bandhs, check dams, ponds, and paths for water to flow. All the water is going to the ground and the aquifer is being recharged. Much wildlife can be seen over here. We have more than 150 species of birds. It’s very important to take all this into consideration before ploughing through them.

The sustainable city will collapse if we disturb its ecology

Auroville being an eco-sensitive zone, felling of tree would affect the birds too.

We can avoid the conflict if we put our perceptions aside and find a way forward, together. We are looking forward to having a collaborative approach of the developmental project so that peace and harmony can be restored.


Auroville Foundation's Response

The recently appointed Auroville Foundation Secretary Dr. Jayanti Ravi with the backing of the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation has taken decisive steps towards the development of the Auroville Township in accordance with the Auroville Master Plan through the Auroville Town Development Council.

These developments include roads and infrastructure corridors in an effort to give momentum to the manifestation of the city of Auroville, which has remained stalled for several decades.

Certain Auroville residents have blocked the advancement of work with the use of physical force and verbal abuse towards the work team and the police, under the guise of ecological concerns, despite an extensive community process where these concerns were thoroughly addressed.

The issue has been filed at the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which has granted interim stay on the project and the matter would be heard again on 17 December.

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from my-report

Topics:  NGT   National Green Tribunal   Ecology 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
More News