Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Auroville to gain “control of development” from the land mafia

Indian Express - Anubhuti Vishnoi Monday , Apr 26, 2010 New Delhi:
About 10 kilometres north of Puducherry lies Auroville, home to about 2,100 people who hail from 45 different countries including India. Established in 1968 as a small international community for “world peace”, Auroville is set to expand its boundaries with its first ever masterplan getting the approval of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.
Preparing for a rapid increase in population which is estimated to touch 50,000 by 2025, the Auroville Foundation has, for years now, been trying to acquire land in villages in and around the area. This is not a very easy prospect as the barren land on which the Auroville Foundation once stood has now transformed into a verdant area which attracts hoardes of tourists, land speculators and real estate developers. To be notified soon, the masterplan, which has been in the works for a decade now, aims to check “rampant commercialisation” of property around Auroville, “misuse” of land use norms surrounding the community precincts and help gain “control of development” in the area from the land mafia.

“We need to acquire about 180 acres. The idea is to avoid commercialisation in the area and to check speculation on land prices. The masterplan proposes an environmentally, ecologically and economically sustainable town planning arrangement for Auroville. These will be centered on human unity and will channelise development value based on spirituality,” said Pashi Kapoor, Coordinator, Centre for Urban Research, Auroville Foundation.
According to the details available till August 1, 2000, the designated Auroville Township area covers 19.63 sq km, i.e. 1,963 ha. The Foundation wants to secure another 980 ha for Auroville’s development into a township for 50,000 people.
There are six village settlements within the Auroville Township area. The idea is to acquire land around the township and develop them into agricultural tracts where farm sector research can be encouraged through zoning regulations.
However, not all view Auroville’s expansion plans as good news. Several sections residing in villages around Auroville are opposed to this “takeover” and allege that strong-arm tactics are sometimes employed by the Foundation’s authorities. They have also expressed reservations about Auroville’s attempts to control the land transaction in the area.

The present Auroville Foundation Secretary, M Ramaswamy, who has held the post since 2006, has actively been espousing the cause of the Auroville Foundation and has spearheaded many attempts to acquire land in the area. Now, the Union HRD Ministry’s decision to notify the Auroville Foundation’s masterplan could aid the land acquisition bid.
Kapoor claimed the objective of the Perspective Plan 2025, first drafted in 2001, is well-intentioned. He said it is an attempt to ensure that haphazard, unplanned development by speculators and real estate developers does not affect the well-planned township and to break new ground in settlement-planning, demonstrating how “urban” and “rural” areas can develop together in an integral and holistic way.

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