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Greenbelt planning - social implications

 

The following letter by Auroville's Green Group was sent in April '03 to Auroville's Planning Groups, making observations which are more and more reverberating through the community at large. We therefore place it here for the general interest of our readers.

 

Dear Planning Group members,

Auroville master plan, green belt, villagers' participation - a suggestion

In our joint efforts for a more complete and valid Auroville masterplan including land use in the green belt, the Green Group is in the process of collecting viewpoints of land stewards in the green belt. While this will hopefully be a useful and fruitful exercise, we also realize that our

village neighbours have, to a far extent, not been included in planning the development and use of land in Auroville's projected green belt (in a geographically non-rigid definition of the word) or of land neighbouring land-holdings of the Auroville Foundation.

Request for study of neighbours' involvement

It appears to us that their views and participation in the planning of 'Auroville's green belt' will be as important as ours. We therefore suggest that efforts be made to find funds and personnel to carry out such a study.

True motivation

Some of us will agree to this suggestion for the sake of acquiring or keeping or regaining the villagers' goodwill and tolerance towards Auroville. To some of us the idea might appeal for its spirit of benevolence and tolerance on our side.

However, it wants to be seen as an actual step in the directions given by the Mother as to the realization of Auroville in its broad and full sense.

Serious exercise in participatory planning and developing

We would like to stress from the very beginning that such a study can only be taken up if it is taken serious. We have to be aware that it is worse to be asked for an opinion and not to be listened to, than never to be asked at all. No expectations should be raised if we are not serious about following up.

We are aware that it will not be an easy exercise and that it will require solid communication skills, human as well as language-wise. The study itself, if carried out in the right spirit and intensity, will be an exercise in participatory planning and developing, and as such will not come to an end when the study and the production of a paper will be completed.

Need for unbiased objectivity

In order to assure a sense of unbiased objectivity during the study, we think that non-Aurovilian assistance - e.g. from an NGO with experience in this field - should be involved. It is also obvious that all those agencies and working groups in Auroville who in the past had the courage and energy to make studies in a similar or same direction, are invited to contribute and participate. The letter is also addressed to them and may be circulated further to anybody who might have been missed out.

Regards,
Green Group

CC to Working Committee and to Harvest, Palmyra, Pitchandikulam Bio Resource Centre, Social Research Centre, Village Action Group

 

Contact: greengroup@auroville.org.in

April '03


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