Cyclone resistant low cost houses are being built using traditional practices at this Phailin-devastated remote village in Ganjam district in Odisha.
Although the use of concrete has been brought to minimum during construction of these houses, it is being claimed that they would be able to withstand cyclones and provide shelter during natural holocausts. Cost of building one house is Rs. 37,000. Seventeen such houses are being built for cyclone devastated Dalit families of the village. The villagers are providing labour for the construction of these houses.
‘Action Aid’ has provided financial assistance for the construction through a social organisation United Artists’ Association (UAA). Mangaraj Panda of the UAA said they were hopeful that construction of these new houses would be complete by June 15. It will enable the cyclone affected families to start residing in the new houses before the start of the monsoon.
Traditional building material like bamboo is being extensively used as bamboo is more flexible than conventional building materials. These houses do not have any concrete pillars emerging from the foundation. Empty 15 litre oil cans filled with concrete have been buried to serve as foundation pillars. Strong bamboo poles have been put inside these concrete filled oil cans to serve as pillars of the house. The plinth of the house is two and half feet high to save them from flooding by water flowing from nearby hill streams during rains.
Walls of these houses are to be made from bamboo strips which would be covered using a mixture of cow dung and clay. These houses would have a tin roof so that it does not harm anyone in case it collapses. The walls would be to light and flexible to withstand high velocity wind. In case they collapse, they would not cause any major injury. “The plinth, the roof as well as the four walls of these houses would be bound using bamboo. Flexibility of bamboo would be the greatest strength of these houses,” said Sudarsan Gouda who is supervising the construction of these houses.
Mini Mohapatra, a social activist in the area said once these 17 houses get constructed it was hoped that some more poor families of the area may show interest to get their houses constructed in this traditional manner without getting lured by the attraction of modern building technology, which they cannot afford.
According to her these new cyclone resistant houses would be on 10 feet by 20 feet area and would have two rooms, which most poor families cannot afford, she added.