A ‘Hasiru Mane’ for the foot soldiers of solid waste management

In a pilot project, homes being built using alternate materials to keep costs down

Devaraj Gosai, a scrap dealer, and his family are counting the days before they can move into their new home.

The couple’s home on a small site at Hebbal has been constructed under the Hasiru Mane initiative of Hasiru Dala, an organisation that works towards bringing ragpickers and scrap dealers into the mainstream. Hasiru Mane is an experimental, pilot project to build homes using alternate materials, including recycled ones.

Mr. Gosai is overseeing last-minute work at his home. The family has been shuttling between a rented house and a local temple hall since September last. “We earlier lived in a mud walled house with asbestos roofing. That house was in a dilapidated condition. We are grateful to Hasiru Dala for helping us construct a home that is not just beautiful, but also costs much lesser than what we expected,” he said.

The Hasiru Mane project was launched late last year and the organisation identified two beneficiaries – Indira, a ragpicker, and Mr. Gosai.

“While Mr. Gosai’s house is nearing completion, Indira’s house is under construction,” said Nalini Shekar, director of Hasiru Dala.

She told The Hindu that the houses are built from secondhand materials to reduce the cost and ensure that they are ecologically sustainable as well. The organisation, she said, has tied up with Selco Foundation, which has provided technical and financial support to the project.

“We followed a unique methodology of design. We sat with each member of the household separately and asked them what they wanted in their new home. We have also tried to use alternate materials, such as fly ash bricks that don’t require plastering or painting. However, Mr. Gosai wanted his home to be painted in a bright colour. So, a layer of putty was applied over the bricks,” she said and added that by using alternate materials, the project cost has come down to 30% of the estimate.

Project coordinator and architect Karthik Natarajan said using alternate materials and recycled materials had multi-fold benefits. “First, the materials don’t reach the landfills nor are they dumped somewhere. Second, the cost of the project is reduced substantially. Third, the materials are ecologically sustainable,” he said.

Ms. Shekar noted that Hasiru Dala is looking to create a pool of labourers who are adept at using alternate and recycled materials to construct homes. Also in the pipeline is setting up of a workshop where citizens can donate any material that would help with the construction of homes.

The organisation now plans to take up smaller projects such as renovation and refurbishment of existing structures.

“We have approached a few financial institutions seeking loans at low-interest rates. However, they have not been forthcoming. By showcasing these two houses, we hope banks and other institutions may come forward to lend, and corporates may provide some funding to the project,” she said.

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