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114: Eco-City

Problem:

The history of the Planet is one of unending conflict between creeds, politicians and nations where the world’s resources are plundered indiscriminately.

Solution:

Auroville,: City of Dawn


In the 1960s, Mirra Alfassa, a 90-year-old a spiritual guru, known as “the Mother”, dreamed of a place where humanity can live united, in peace and in harmony with nature, beyond of all beliefs, political opinions and nationalities.

She asked French architect Roger Anger to design an experimental eco-city in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

She called it Auroville (“City of Dawn”). The inauguration ceremony of Auroville in 1968 was attended by delegates of 124 nations, who brought soils from all parts of the world. In the mixing of these soils, known as a Yagna began the journey of one-ness.

Endorsed by UNESCO and the Government of India, Auroville is now famous for being known as the most environment friendly and pollution free city of India.

Construction materials used are mainly organic and natural including wood, mud, grass, stabilised earth bricks and fired bricks. In the early 1960s and 70s, a small group of pioneering residents took up extensive tree planting to rejuvenate the barren land and harvest rainwater. There is now a forest of over two million trees and some of them exotic.

Since then, Aurovilians (residents of Auroville) have been constantly experimenting with new ideas and solutions in areas of forestation, organic farming, renewable energy, water management, waste treatment, building technologies and environmental awareness programs among others.

Auroville’s EcoService collects waste from 2/3rd’s of the Aurovilians while the remaining 1/3rd prefer to dispose waste in their own way. 60% of the waste collected is recycled while the rest 40% is land filled. Auroville is working towards a zero waste policy.

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”.

Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and the entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called the Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.

Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar-powered light.

There is a solar kitchen equipped to cook for over 1,000 people everyday primarily uses the energy generated from the largest solar collector in Asia developed and build indigenously at Auroville.

Windmills, mainly used to pump water, are a common sight in Auroville along with many solar power panels that provide energy to almost everything in Auroville, ranging from the street lights to the big town hall. Bicycles or motorised 2-wheelers (and some electric 2-wheelers) can be rented.

As of January 2018 Auroville had 2,814 residents (2,127 adults and 687 children) from 54 countries with two-thirds from India, France and Germany

What you can do: Visit and stay at Auroville and/or apply its solution to your local community.

Tomorrow’s solution: Eco-friendly boat moorings

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