Life in the villages
One of the most critical problems in the area
surrounding Auroville is the housing situation. Villagers live in
small mud-walled, palm leaf roofed huts. These roofs have to be
renewed every two or three years due to the monsoon, and it becomes
a financial burden on the already difficult economy.
Besides, the urbanisation of the villages is
chaotic and deficient. Village streets are eroded and pitted. There
is no public sanitation system for wastewater, excreta or household
waste. Government programmes for rural electrification, street lighting
and sanitation are poorly implemented.
For years the various village-oriented groups
of Auroville have been working in different aspects in a separate
way: water, health, education and other projects for the development
of the villages.
Along with Auroville's Village Action Group,
the Ilaignarkal Educational
Centre is working in permanent contact with students and Auroville
workers from the surrounding villages. Thanks to this contact, we
have been able to identify their main problems and conceive of a
project in which the different inputs from Auroville can be put
together in an integral way.
Project for a model village
The main objective of this project is to design
and build a model village, on a reduced scale, which allows the
experimentation, in an integral way, of innovative solutions for
the current problems of the villages. We foresee the creation of
a model with an effective layout striking a balance between green
open spaces and actual construction sites, integrating the necessary
infrastructure and the common services. The project will also experiment
with different models of affordable housing. A biological wastewater
treatment plant will be included in the project, so that 100% of
the wastewater will be recycled and reused for watering the green
Parallel to the physical implementation of the
project, there will be an educational programme that will convey
to the future beneficiaries of the project, and to the local population
in general, the advantages of the new habitat. This programme will
encourage the participation of the (future) residents during the
construction and, once finalised, the correct maintenance of the
The potential residents will participate in an educative/social
programme to encourage understanding of the value of the project,
so that they feel motivated to fully participate in it.
The project concretely aims at building 27 houses
with common infrastructure and open spaces in two phases. The first
phase will consist of 12 houses of several designs and the necessary
infrastructure, as well as construction of the first part of the
community centre to include services such as laundry, meeting cum
television room, and other spaces specifically dedicated to educational
Green areas specifically designed and planted
in order to create a natural, clean and nice atmosphere will surround
the houses and the community centre.
This model village is envisaged as a demonstration
centre, a creative prototype, serving as an example for other future
projects in the area, and in India at large.
The project will directly benefit approximately
one hundred people who will be selected taking into account the
Lack of housing or extreme housing situation
Young people with a thirst to progress and
with a flexibility to get adapted to new ways of life
People with strong community awareness
Long-term workers in Auroville bridging
the international township and the local villages.
Once the model village is built, the residents
will be in charge of its maintenance and functioning. It is envisaged
to set up a management committee composed of 3 representatives of
the village and 3 representatives of the Aurovilian project holders.
This committee will try and solve the problems that may arise, and
take care of the overall management of the project.
The residents will be requested to contribute 10% of their salaries
(as a monthly rent) towards the maintenance of the village facilities
For the preparatory phase of this project, a
committee was set up in August '99 with members of our town planning
section, Auroville's Future, and the Ilaignarkal Education Centre.
This committee elaborated the project proposal, presented it to
different organisations and working groups, and formulated the basic
rules and regulations for its management. Recently, the committee
has entrusted the execution of the entire project to the Kolam Design
Unit in Bharat Nivas.
Auroville has allocated 2 hectares of land for this project in the