AUROVILLE INTERNAL AUDIT REQUIRED
NOTE ON THE ROLE OF MR. TOBY NEUMAN IN TDC,WATER HARVEST, WATER SERVICE AND VARUNA
1. Toby has been in charge of Water Harvest for several years. This has been a vitally important service, and has contributed to the sustainable utilisation of water.
2. During his tenure the unit has been systematically asset-stripped and destroyed. Among things that have gone missing and/or sold include 2 excavators, hard disk drives containing vital data on water, jeeps, GPS units, and cash. At least ten Lakhs has been transferred to Water Service, where he is a unit holder, constituting a clear conflict of interest. The fact that Water Harvest is on the verge of being shut down implies that it was deliberately destroyed.
3. Without WH, there is no check on the groundwater extraction, and this is already resulting in salinity. The biggest ‘beneficiary’ of ground water salinisation will be Varuna, who will then have justification for its desalination unit. The implications of having one individual/ unit controlling Auroville’s water and electricity have not been thought out carefully enough and need to be the subject of a much wider debate.
4. A RTI application asking for the work orders for various projects that have been approved by L’Avenir has not been answered. It is believed that in many cases work orders were issued by Toby before any community feedback was obtained.
5. Most recently TDC has approved work on the test ponds. Feedback was asked on this a few years ago, and several people had given very negative feedback. This work was then put on hold, but seems to have started surreptitiously without any clear communication as to why it was taken up in spite of the negative feedback. Please also see # 8 below: even if site permission for the test ponds was given then, it lapsed after 2 years!
6. Apart from the allegations of wrong-doing against Toby in his role of WH executive, there is a constant conflict of interest between his roles at TDC, Water Service and Varuna, and this is an issue the WC needs to address urgently.
7. At the beginning of every request made for feedback by L’Avenir, a statement says that “The final approval is given when L’Avenir / TDC issues an NOC (No Objection Certificate). This happens only once the feedback period is over, the feedback has been evaluated, final decision by TDC has been reached and the necessary financial formalities have been completed. It is only after issuing a final building permission that fencing, building or any other activity on the site can start. It has to be noted that site permission is given to reserve the site for a maximum period of two years in order to prepare a project proposal. It does not give any right to fence and clear the site unless, for practical reasons, there is a special permission of TDC. “
Work on a new well on the Vikas radial started two days after feedback was requested!
8. Toby has also allegedly been in touch with officials of the Highways Authority regarding digging of a trench across the ECR to accommodate the pipeline from the desalination plant. Whether he has done this as a TDC representative or as a Varuna director is not clear. TDC cannot support the desalination plant without a community consensus on this.
MORE DETAILS- RING ROAD
9. Work on Ring road was started without waiting for community feedback.
10. Toby -in his role for L’avenir- allowed work to start on the Ring road in Kottakarai without work-order.
11. Drawings for the Ring road did not show non-Auroville lands, thus misleading decision makers
12. The proposed endpoint of the Ring road in Kottakarai was at the border of a private land, potentially increasing it’s value.
13. Work on the Ring road in Kottakarai was started without L’avenir having seen the situation on the spot
14. Publication in N&N was 2 days before work started
15. The proposed route for the Ring road in Kottakarai included in a dangerous bend around and underneath a tree. Impossible for trucks. L’avenir and community members agreed on a better path. This agreement was not followed by Road service, When Toby was asked to correct this, although he was not in India and could not have seen the situation, he stated that Road service was doing exactly as agreed.
AUROVILLE WATER MAINTENANCE SERVICE
16. Although Water Service was constituted with the remark that no plumbing work was to be undertaken, Toby allows Water Service to do plumbing work.
17. Toby took up temporary management of Auroville Water Maintenance Service when conflicts surface between Aurovilians in that unit.
18. Toby advised to close #Auroville Water Maintenance Service.
19. With Toby in FAMC the FAMC agrees to close down Auroville Water Maintenance Service.
20. Community got involvement, ultimately resulting in an RA-voting. Auroville Water Maintenance Service lives on as a successful service.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
21. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has Toby registered as executive of Basic Water Needs (India) Pvt Ltd and of Varuna Pvt Ltd .
22. In the registers of Ministry of Corporate Affairs Toby uses his Auroville address as executive of Basic Water Needs Pvt Ltd, thus creating a risk for foreign #Aurovilians who have Visa ‘to volunteer in Auroville’. See https://www.zaubacorp.com/company-directors/BASIC-WATER-NEEDS-INDIA-PRIVATE-LIMITED/U29198TN2008PTC066090
23. Conflict of interest while being executive of several water-related Auroville units and services including the non Auroville Basic Water Needs Pvt Ltd.
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