Auroville city area - Land Suitablity and Land Use Proposal

Auroville was inaugurated on 28th Feb. 1968, and presently (Jan. 2014) there is a resident population of 2,500+ persons from approximately 45+ countries of the world with 20-22% under the age of 18. The land ownership is about 3,400+ acres with 2/3 within the township limits, including the green belt, and 1/3 held in fragmented parcels along the coast and inland.

From a barren plateau in 1968, one of the most successful projects implemented by Auroville is the surface water management to control erosion of soil and recharge the aquifer, and the planting of forests to improve soil fertility. Other areas of innovation and change initiated by Auroville are in the fields of appropriate building technologies (earth construction), renewable energy (solar/wind/biomass) and sustainable practices in natural resource and waste management.

As post-socialist India aspires to reach double digit economic growth, Auroville is impacted by land speculation from a growing upper middle class with disposable incomes, who are attracted by the quality of its natural environment. The growth rate of the tourism and manufacturing sectors in Puducherry has been one of the highest in the country. The energy demand in the region outstrips the capacity; the exploitation of the groundwater resources is unmonitored in spite of the saline intrusion in and around the coastline.

The commercial strip development along both the East Coast Road and State Highway 66, with suburban developments north and south of Puducherry on agricultural lands with poor sanitation and waste disposal, is clogging the natural flow channels, silting up the surface water holding tanks and/or polluting them with toxins that seep into the groundwater sources.

The rural population in the area aspires to benefit from the development boom, but the opportunities to fulfil these aspirations are not equitable, leading to social tensions, sporadic violence and vulnerability to political exploitation causing power struggles between the elected and traditional leadership. The district and state initiated development programmes are not embedded in a regional plan with integrated developmental priorities. The panchayat and block level programmes are impacted and influenced by political lobbies and special interest groups.

Auroville is impacted by these conflicts and is vulnerable to collateral damage from the growing factionalism within the resident population in Auroville of local extraction, where impartiality is severely compromised. The socio-political situation that has developed in the last decade clearly indicates a need for an immediate strategy to secure the land in the city area, and a simultaneous drive to arrive at a consensus on the developmental methodology and priorities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.

Establishing a policy of environmentally sensitive land use for Auroville and the region is imperative to overcome two main challenges: saline water intrusion and food security due to the loss of agricultural lands to development.

The failure of either could prevent the development of Auroville into a township with a resident population of 50,000.

Read the full report here

GreenAcres campaign

Fundraising for expanding the Auroville Greenbelt.

Our eco-zone is under threat of rapid urbanization, this is an urgent move to reverse the trend and extend activities.

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