You might have heard of affordable housing but a 500 square feet house, erected in three days and costing Rs 2 lakh? A prefabricated house using bamboo is that and more — durable, multi-storeyed, earthquake resistant, fire resistant, and thermal insulation. No, this is not an advertisement and can potentially solve our rural housing demand.
Bamboo housing can be traditional houses, using bamboo culms; traditional bahareque bamboo houses, where bamboo frames are plastered with cement (or clay); and modern prefabricated houses, made of engineered bamboo — laminated boards, veneers and panels.
These environment-friendly, low-on-maintenance structures can be assembled quickly (also re-located) even in difficult locales after being packed flat and transported at an end cost of Rs 300 to 700 per square feet.
The National Mission for Bamboo Application has structurally tested and erected more than 12,000 pre-fabricated bamboo houses at locations like Kargil, and tsunami-hit Andamans. “Venu-gram” is a successful low cost, bamboo based cluster housing project, situated on the Nagpur-Bombay highway at Salod in Maharashtra.
That such houses have not seen commercialisation and larger scale is due to the irregular availability of bamboo. This is because, despite being a grass, it is classified as ‘tree’ (felled bamboo becomes timber) in our archaic forest laws, thus being subjected to a plethora of laws on private plantation, felling and transportation.