These definitions are still valid, but are they a pointer to ecology? A look by

Two words not originally part of English vocabulary, are now well understood in India, drawing a distinction between the local informal and proper formal buildings as ‘Kutcha’ and ‘Pucca.’ In Hindi, Kutcha buildings are supposed to be temporary makeshift arrangements, while the Pucca ones are durable professional constructions.

These age-old definitions are still valid, but with sustainability discussions having taken centre-stage, they can also represent low-embodied energy and high-embodied energy approaches.

Everything that we can name, like building bylaws, design codes, college education, contractual systems, bank loan procedures and such others, have continuously discarded the cutcha approach in urban areas citing many reasons, but at a huge environmental cost and a lost opportunity for possible personal savings.

The standard

When the British introduced professional and formal modes of construction, backed by elaborate procedures documented in writing, no one would have then realised that the eco-friendly and cost-effective architecture of pre-colonial India was to change forever.

Over those decades, many instruction handbooks had to be produced to change the local practices and finally when the PWD manuals got published about a century ago, with clearly stated specifications for materials, sketches for details and procedures for construction as an all-India standard, the formalisation of Indian construction had come to stay.

Today the PWD may represent only government projects, but the PWD approach altered the way even the private buildings were designed and built. The societal desire for such pucca buildings has never stopped since then.

SATHYA PRAKASH VARANASHI

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