Auroville is located on a plateau some 50 mts above sea level(Puducherry, Southern Part of India).It hosts an abundance of natural contrasts. 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.
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.
Ignoring the gentle slope up from the sea all the way to the Matrimandir, the land is essentially flat in the sense that it is without any hills or escarpments.
Rainwater running in streams across the ground betrays otherwise unnoticeable subtle grades. Over time these streams have cut deep grooves into the earth on their journey to the Bay of Bengal.
Multihued in whites, reds and browns, comprised of sand, pebbles and the ever-present red laterite earth, home to many birds and small animals, reptiles and insects, these heavily eroded areas are slowly being reclaimed by the forests; many trees can now be found growing in Forecomers and Utility canyons.
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.
It will block important water channels 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.
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. The proposed new 4-lane bypass will destroy the carefully nurtured local environment.