Auroville Land Consolidation & Fundraising – Historical Perspectives & Milestones.pdf


“History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstance.”

Donald Coeighter, a noted Canadian historian

“Auroville has an extraordinary career so far. Auroville has reached a certain level. What is needed now is major push into the future…”

Dr.Karan Singh (in his maiden address to Aurovilians in 1991)


We are happy to present a historical perspective and the milestones of Auroville’s land consolidation and fundraising over the decades, as compiled by Auroville’s long-time fundraiser, Aryadeep. In it, he pays tribute to the many people – Aurovilians, eminent leaders and government officials – who have contributed their energy and devotion to the cause of Auroville’s land. Donor generosity has always played a major role, and particularly with significant land purchases funded by worldwide friends in the past 8 years via the Acres for Auroville campaign. With 10% of the City and over 50% of the Green Belt still missing, the task isn’t over – but we are hopeful for continued solidarity and progress for the future!




Milestones – Events


1964 8th October 1964 , the first plot of land for Auroville is bought.

Sidelight: In those days, the project was first located near Usteri Lake, west of the Puducherry-Tindivanam-Chennai road. Then, in early 1965, the centre of the township was shifted eastward near the place where today “Promesse” community stands. The Puducherry-Tindivanam-Chennai road was passing right through the centre of the planned city. Towards the end of that year, Roger Anger, the chief architect of Auroville, presented his fresh township plan. His first point was that the centre of Auroville should not be located on a main road. He convinced the Mother to shift the centre further towards the east, that is, between the two roads leading to Chennai, namely, the Puducherry-Tindivanam-Chennai road and the present East Coast Road.



28th February – Auroville is inaugurated in ways befitting the ideal of human unity and her international and universal dimensions.

Sidelight: The area, highly impoverished, falls under Vanur Taluk of the Villupuram District in Tamil Nadu, 150 kilometers south of Chennai and 10 kms. north of the Union Territory of Puducherry.



Between 1964 and



















Some of the early pioneers of Auroville make concerted efforts for procuring the remaining land for the proposed township and to revive the barren plateau with integrated soil management and plantation.

Sidelight: The process followed for procuring the land was that of voluntary negotiated purchases. At no point of time, was anyone pressurized in any way to part with it for Auroville. In 95 percent of cases, landowners themselves came forward for sale of their land. The remaining 5 percent were approached by these pioneers and received affirmative responses. The Mother was not only supportive of these efforts but encouraged and insisted that lands for Auroville be procured first of all.

Sidelight: A District Forest Officer writes a report on the Auroville area.

Excerpts: “Land in and around Auroville in Tamil Nadu have been denuded during the past few decades and have been subjected to very bad management. As a result, agriculture land has been shrinking due to spread of gullies all around. Year after year, thousands of tons of topsoil have been removed to the sea and elsewhere by both wind and water. Gullies are not only spreading but also deepening, bringing the down the subsoil level year after year. Unfortunately, people are not fully aware of the extent of damage that is being done due to the various erosive forces acting in this locality. There is a lack of organization and education… The area is in advanced stage of desertification.”


A period of thin activity: A year after the Mother’s passing in 1973, the drive to secure the required land for the future township was halted for almost two decades due to factions between certain sections in that period over the control and management of Auroville. Only 200 acres were purchased in those 18 years, mainly for the expansion of the already existing settlements or to establish specific projects.

A new momentum and thrust to secure the remaining land came as a result of appeals and concerted efforts of certain Aurovilians from 1993 onwards.





Results of the new momentum

Dr. Karan Singh, as the first Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, writes to an eminent authority of Tamil Nadu, appealing for cooperation for the physical and infrastructure needs of Auroville.








An elderly American, Blanche Sherwood, bequeaths her estate in the USA to Auroville which enables the purchase of most of the remaining lands for the Matrimandir Gardens at the centre of Auroville. Verne Henshall, a friend of Auroville, and Thiru L.K.Tripathy, I.A.S, then Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, play a very important part in this process.

A delegation from Auroville personally visits an eminent authority in Chennai and offers contributions to the Government Relief Fund when a cyclone hits the state’s coastal area.






Reaching out to the Survival Challenge of the Earth-Queen” a paper by Aryadeep on the land safeguarding task, is circulated in the community and among the friends of Auroville. In this paper, he exhorts Aurovilians to accord highest priority and focused teamwork to resolve this vital issue.


1993 – 1997




The then LEM (Land and Estate Management) team follows up with the Secretaries, collectors and other officers of the State Government on the issue of the leasing or granting ofTamil Nadu Government-owned unutilized and barren or canyon  lands in Auroville area to the Auroville Foundation for laying the infrastructure of Auroville. The request takes into account the needs of the wider bio-region and surrounding localities.





“In Quest of the Dawn’s Amplitude: Task No. 2 – That Breathing Lands” a paper by Aryadeep on the funding aspect of the land task is sent to about 50 Aurovilians.





In October of this year, Dr. Karan Singh writes to an eminent authority.

Excerpts: “The very body of this bold experiment is threatened…. time for strong and positive move to consolidate and secure the Auroville project…”










Guy Ryckaert, an Auroville resident, joins the land cause and publishes three booklets that could serve as presentation material to decision-makers and sources of collaboration.

1          The City the Earth Needs

2          The City which cares for its bioregion

3          Healing the Earth (Environmental achievements of Auroville)


In September of this year, Dr. Karan Singh writes to an eminent authority on the critical land situation.







Auroville Today, a monthly magazine from Auroville, brings out its 100th issue with land safeguarding as its lead article.

A series of weekly meetings takes place to discuss the land issue following the visit of Wolfgang, then president of Auroville International, Germany.















Creation of the Auroville Land Fund.

Sidelight: Formerly, there was only one section Land and Estate Management (LEM) which was responsible for diverse aspects of land-related tasks. Under the new arrangement, communication with the friends and donors, are entrusted to this new body. Guy, Shivaya and Aryadeep constitute the initial team.

The Land Fund brings the following contributions to the efforts:

·        Appeals and leaflets in six languages- English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian  were published and circulated among friends and well-wishers of Auroville.

·        Answered the queries of donors and interested individuals.

·         Published  greeting  cards,  calendars, T-shirts,and other awareness generating literature.

·        Created its website.

·        Two visits to the USA and other countries for Auroville Land presentations among friends and well-wishers of Auroville

·        Organized modest events such as Painting Shows,Flea Markets, etc.








In October of this year, Dr.Karan Singh once again writes to an eminent authority in New Delhi pointing out the escalating land prices and the need for assistance in resolving the crisis.

“Not just an appeal, AN IMPLORATION” a paper by Aryadeep is circulated in the community. Topics include urgency and importance of saving the access roads to Auroville.






































April: Launch of the Auroville Land Fund newsletter

Marti Mueller, internationally recognized ecologist, writer and a senior resident of Auroville writes a significant paper: “Auroville – Obtaining the land now is critical and crucial”.

Gilles Guigan, a longtime resident engineer of Auroville, writes several well-researched papers

1          Geographical extent of the Auroville project

2          New questions raised by Auroville’s accelerated pace of development

3          Specificity of Auroville as a Township and as an Institution

4          Auroville’s attitude towards the local population (Mother’s statement)

Creation of Land Use Coordination (LUC)

Sidelight: The purpose of LUC is to carry out detailed projections of land use in Auroville, prepare the Auroville Master Plan, to explain its content to leaders and officials at every level and to evolve a joint development council for Auroville and the surrounding regions and localities. However, the committee winds up after preparing the Master Plan.

The late Thiru  G. Dattatri, former Chief Town Planner of Chennai and a personal friend of a pioneering Aurovilian, Frederick, offers honorary consultancy to LUC in preparing the Master Plan of Auroville.

LUC organizes in Auroville a District Level seminar “Perspective 2000: Directions for Rural and Urban Development in the New Millenium”.

Sidelight: Many high-ranking government officials from Chennai, Puducherry and the Villupurum district participate. Some of them show their awareness and sensitivity of Auroville land safeguarding and even offer possible solutions. Shri V. Suresh, then Chairman and Managing Director of Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO), recognized as one of the most outstanding administrators in the country, says in his keynote address: “Auroville is a new place for a new population. It should be protected so that hotels, resorts and similar things do not disturb the sanctity of the place.”

In May 14th of this year, an All-Auroville Gathering takes place in the Amphitheatre to show solidarity and concern for the land safeguarding. Guy Ryckaert delivers a message:

Excerpts: “The first necessity for us is to be together and join hands to take up this major challenge in front of us….This is the responsibility of all of us, of each member of community.”

Dr. L. M. Singhvi, an eminent Indian citizen, former Indian High Commissioner to the UK, and then member of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, provides a strong rational basis for the land cause during his first-ever visit to Auroville.

Excerpts: “The only way to safeguard the vision of Auroville, the only way to uphold the legislative Act passed by the Parliament is to safeguard the territorial integrity of Auroville. Auroville is a universal township, a universal township of tomorrow. It is a vision that cannot accept, cannot countenance intrusion, or pockets of intrusions into it. There has to be very comprehensive and multi-pronged action. The partnership has to be between the residents of Auroville and whole host of instrumentalities. The Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation has strong responsibility in this respect.”

Professor Mary E. King, former member of the International Advisory Council of the Auroville Foundation, Professor of International Politics at the University For Peace, Costa Rica and recipient of the Jamanalal Bajaj Award for Gandhian Values outside India, writes to an eminent authority in New Delhi urging to extend all support and collaboration for safeguarding and protecting the land of the Auroville.

Excerpts: “Of great concern is the state of rising pressures on the land adjacent to, surrounding and within the Auroville township area.…Market forces are creating strains of such a magnitude that they threaten the actualization of this most remarkable experiment in international unity.”











In April of this year, Maharaj Krishen Kaw, Secretary in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and an eminent Indian thinker, writes to the then Chief Secretary in the State Government requesting on behalf of Government of India assistance in securing the remaining land so as to avoid incongruous development in the planned township area.

On 12th April, the Ministry of Human Resource Development approves The Auroville Universal Township Master Plan (Perspective: 2025).

In December of this year and again in January 2002, Professor Kireet Joshi, I.A.S, the then Chairman of the Auroville Foundation and formerly, the special Educational Advisor to the Government of India, writes to the eminent authority in Chennai requesting to consider (1): measures to protect the lands required for Auroville (2) to transfer to Auroville Foundation the Peramboke lands against Long Term Lease rentals for laying the infrastructure of Auroville.



















Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, publishes the Master Plan of Auroville approved during the previous year.

Dr. Karan Singh, in his capacity as Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, writes to an eminent authority enclosing documents prepared from Auroville and pointing out the need for urgent action to safeguard the land for the unified development of Auroville

On 16th February of this year, Dr. L. M. Singhvi MP, member of the Governing Board, former Indian High Commissioner to the UK, writes to an eminent authority along with a copy of Master Plan of Auroville.

Excerpts: “As a member of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, I feel that this Master Plan will provide an excellent example of Development and will benefit the entire bioregion in and around Auroville. Development of Auroville, however, requires protection of the area from potential speculators, who want to take undue advantage of the ecological development made by Auroville over the years. … I would request you to consider promulgating the Auroville Master Plan …”

Sidelight: Excerpts from the authority’s reply to Dr. L.M. Singhvi. “I wish to inform you that I am in total agreement with you on the need to preserve the ecological balance attained in Auroville over the years through its diverse and sustained efforts …”













On 20th January of this year, The Housing and Urban Development Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu issues an order asking the Special Commissioner of the Town and Country Planning, Tamil Nadu “not to approve any layouts in respect of those lands” sought by the Auroville Foundation.

In April of this year, Paul Blanchflower, Director of the Auroville Botanical Garden, conceives of “A Million Dollar Campaign” for the land. The idea is that 1000 people from amongst friends and well-wishers of Auroville pledge to raise or donate $1000 or an equivalent amount before Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday 15th August 2003.

Sidelight: The campaign ends in success though late by one year.

Frederick, a senior Auroville representative who had represented Auroville during the time of Auroville Emergency Provision Act, 1980, and Auroville Foundation Act, 1988 visits and tries to meet eminent authorities in Chennai and New Delhi to explain the critical land situation.





“Saving the Rose flower of the Earth” a paper by Aryadeep is circulated among a number of Aurovilians in March of this year. It is a largely revised version of earlier paper “Not just an appeal, AN IMPLORATION”.











































Creation of the Auroville Land Coordination Committee (LCC) towards the end of 2006 by the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation.

Resumption of land purchase after a gap of two years.

Sidelight: In the first few months of its work, LCC purchases / exchanges 31.8 acres with the help of LCC staff Auroprem, Raman and Stephenraj.


Resumption of the Auroville Land Fund Newsletter after the lapse of two years. Two short articles by Aryadeep are posted on the Auroville Intranet:

1:         “Creating a win-win situation for Auroville land” subtitled “The blueprint to safeguarding the land for Auroville”.

2:         “Auroville, Auroville Foundation and the Government of India: Some Musings.”

Sidelight: In these articles, Aryadeep points out that Auroville offers to India and Tamil Nadu an opportunity to host a new kind of United Nations on India’s soil and this can be deeply complementary to the existing one. He also points out that an integral and unified development of the Auroville Universal Township can make immense contributions to the cultural, educational, social, economical and spiritual progress of the state and the country, besides garnering considerable international support for the national unity and integrity of India.

During his visit to Auroville, Dr. Karan Singh remarks that Auroville has a population of 2000 but creativity of 20,000 people and emphasised giving priority to secure the lands in the inner circle (the city or the urban areas) of Auroville township plan

Extracts from his letter to Aryadeep in June:

“I appreciate efforts to communicate the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother regarding Auroville, the work that is being done there and how, in long term, it will develop into a unique crucible of human unity of which not only Tamil Nadu but the entire country can be proud.

…On my part, I am anxious that the gaps in the land necessary for Auroville’s development are secured at the earliest. …I look for better cohesion among members active in this area so that it functions more smoothly and actively. I have asked Secretary (to the Auroville Foundation) to intensively liaise with the concerned authorities of the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Government in regard to the land matters.”

Auroville Land Fund Newsletter (No. 38 Jan-March ‘07) publishes an article on the vision and potentiality of the Auroville Green Belt. The article highlights how the Green Belt can become a source of inspiration for a beautiful, ecologically rich and healthy Tamil Nadu and India, and emerge as a national asset.

The Mission and Vision statement and the logo of the Land Fund is revised in order to incorporate the Mother’s views on the relevance of Auroville to India.

Work is commenced for the redesigning and updating of the Auroville Land Fund website.

LCC is disbanded. A new body called Land Resource Management (LRM) and a new land purchase team are proposed and approved by the community and the Governing Board.

Sidelight: LRM is meant to impart focused attention to the existing land resources of Auroville and to optimize their use and potentiality.

2007 to 2013



















A new Secretary to the Auroville Foundation puts a halt to all land purchase for nearly 4 years. After his suspension, a new secretary, M. Ramasamy, replaces him.

The new Secretary M. Ramasamy declared land securing and safeguarding as the highest priority.

A purchase of a 23 acre-plot on the versant of the inner Green Belt between Abri and Adventure was purchased thanks to Secretary Ramasamy’s negotiations. The purchase was financed from the funds raised during the Million Dollar campaign.

Another important plot was purchased in the City area connecting Certitude and Eucalyptus

The name ‘Auroville Land Fund’ (ALF) is changed to ‘Lands for Auroville Unified’ (LFAU) because Secretary Ramasamy felt that  the  names of other sections, such as Unity Fund, Health Fund, created identity confusions for the Land Fund.

Also in the Residential Zone, an important three acre-plot was exchanged with outlaying lands. It is now developed into a new residential community, Humanscapes.

Sigrid, a long-term Auroville resident started contributing to the work in cooperation with Aryadeep, helped in updating the website and a wider diffusion of the appeal.


to present

























In late 2013, following the call of Dr. Karan Singh to the community for the need to consolidate the land of the City area, Mandakini Lucien-Brun, an American disciple and fundraiser on the Board of AVI France, started working with Aryadeep to add momentum to the traditional long-term action of LFAU. Together they conceived a special campaign “Acres for Auroville” in order to bring new dynamism for land fundraising.

On 15th August 2014 A4A was launched with the collaboration of the Auroville International Board and the worldwide AVI Centers. Originally conceived for City land fundraising, it expanded its focus year after year, based on donor enthusiasm and fundraising success.

Sidelight: A4A has strengthened donor trust and collaboration with these special features: prompt donor responses, financial transparency via monthly accounting reports, an annual fundraising target (reached and surpassed every year), an enriched website with frequent news articles and updates, an innovative “Success Barometer” for donors to track ongoing progress, quarterly Goodwill Activation bulletins, and a high quality Annual New Year’s Card.

The Chairman of the Auroville Foundation Dr. Karan Singh opined the need to consolidate all land-task related groups under a single umbrella body. Thus, the Land Board came into existence and went into action in December 2014. LFAU became a sub-section of the Land Board.

In 2015, Green Acres (GA) – a specific companion campaign to A4A – was conceived and managed by Sigrid for those donors who wish their contributions to be prioritised exclusively for Green Belt land.

In January 2016, the Art for Land Exhibition with associated land fundraising events was launched by Acres for Auroville (Mandakini, Jasmin, Aravinda) in conjunction with Jaya, Claudine and the Unity Pavilion team. Now an annual event, its proceeds go to A4A for land purchase, and showcases Auroville as a creative artistic hub. The artworks are donated yearly by over a hundred artists from Auroville, India, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the AVI Centers. There is a website for year-long online purchases and the AFL Boutique at the Unity Pavilion.

On August 15th 2016, A4A initiated its 3rd year by widening its fundraising focus to the entire Master Plan area, at the request of Auroville’s Land Board.

August 15th 2021



A4A began its Year 8, announcing the happy result of over 80 acres in 80 plots purchased thanks to the combined generosity of land donors to A4A, LFAU, and Green Acres – with the majority of support coming from donations to Acres for Auroville.


August 2021












The new Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, Dr. Jayanti Ravi, takes charge of the office.   The “Acres for Auroville” newsletter for August 2021 publishes the profile of the new secretary which brings out her distinctive service and career.

A long pending issue of significant land encroachment at Auro Orchard – one of the earliest communities at the outskirts of Auroville – was resolved thanks to the decisive action of the new Secretary, Dr. Jayanti Ravi.

The new Chairman and new members of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation are announced with Sh. R.N. Ravi, Governor of Tamil Nadu, as the new Chairman. This was followed by the announcement of the members of the new International Advisory Council.

The Chairman and the Governing Board along with the Secretary and the IAC members all laid stress on the importance of generating growth momentum of Auroville vis-a-vis The Mother’s vision of a universal township for 50,000 people.


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