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K.A. Martin
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Expert vouches for benefits of reinforced gypsum panels

The load-bearing, reinforced gypsum panels from FRBL, a joint venture between Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore and the Mumbai-based Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF), have come in for praise for their quality from an expert at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras.

Bhaskar Ramamurthy, director of IIT, Madras, who visited the FRBL plant on the FACT campus at Ambalamedu on Thursday, saw firsthand the production of the wall panels, which were now widely used to build cost-efficient and earthquake-resistant buildings, including dwelling units. A statement issued by FACT here on Thursday said the IIT Director was impressed by the quality of the product and recommended increasing production from the current level of 1,000 houses a year to 10,000 houses. He said the introduction of a two-shift system at the gypsum wall panel plant would help enhance productivity. Prof. Rmamurthy has offered IIT assistance to FRBL for diversification of its range of products.

The load-bearing panels from FRBL are used both in building walls and in casting roofs. Use of the panels help to reduce the time taken for building houses substantially and help in saving money as well as prevent the use of depleting natural resources such as river sand.

Another major advantage of using gypsum panels in buildings is that the temperature in buildings with these panels are generally four degrees below the ambient, making it fully suitable to the climatic condition in the country, said the press release by FACT. The wall and roof panels have been tested by the Structural Engineering Research Centre, under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (ICSR).

IIT Madras has been in the forefront of using the panels and has constructed a 2,000 sq ft, two-storey apartment on its campus in just 32 days. The IIT initiative has demonstrated the suitability of the panels for mass housing programmes.The FRBL has already sold two lakh sq ft of gypsum panels, equivalent to around 150 houses under the low income category, the press release said.

The first batch of gypsum panels was despatched from the FRBL plant here in August 2012 after the 50:50 joint venture between the two fertilizer companies was established in 2009.

The unit has capacity to produce 14 lakh panels of 36 sq mt each per year. The FRBL also produces gypsum-based wall putty.

K.A. Martin



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