Protect the afforestation attempts of Auroville
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I have long admired and studied the wonderful afforestation work done in Auroville. Over the last 50 years, this small community has changed a biosphere. The dry arid lands of Kuilapalayam, Bommaiyarpalayam, Edayanchavadi, Kottakarai and other surrounding villages have been changed by dint of the sheer hard work, perseverance, and idealism of a few people. Trees abound (over a 1000 local species). Dams have been built. The water table has been restored. Agriculture flourishes. The environment now supports more than 60 species of birds, when, in 1970, there were less than 10 species. Jackals, porcupines, civet cats, and other small wild creatures have moved into this welcoming sanctuary.
One of the things I appreciate the most is that, though some of the villages here are less than a kilometre away from the sea, and though thoughtless developers are sinking bore wells without a care for future water needs, the water table remains free of salt! This is directly due to the years of afforestation work carried out by caring Aurovilians.
The area has become an oasis where people from all over India dream of moving into - and many come to start organic farms or begin artistic ventures.
This is now challenged by a proposal for a 4-lane highway (bypass) that will rip through the trees and farms. This road will, strangely, be a diversion from the East Coast Road (another national highway) and less than a kilometre away from the NH45 bypass.
The proposed highway will destroy the work of the last 50 years. It will block important water channels. It will suck in the seawater and destroy the agricultural lands. It will create an environment of noise that will cause animals and birds to desert the area. It will bring back aridity to a once parched land. It will destroy the years of research that re-introduced local plant species into a dry red landscape. In time it will suck the nutrition that Aurovilians have struggled to nourish this earth with.
As such, in terms of transport of goods and services, there is no need of this new highway cutting through the area since there are two other effective highways very close by and a Pondicherry bypass already exists.
I would like to petition the Villupuram District Collector and the Minister of State for Highways to use the existing highways and bypass roads. The proposed new 4-lane bypass will destroy the carefully nurtured local environment.
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