Bamboo 'magic' to shield Leh flash-flood victims | india | Hindustan Times
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Bamboo 'magic' to shield Leh flash-flood victims

india Updated: Oct 17, 2010 14:50 IST

A polished and light bamboo structure hardly resembles the ancestral home of Yang Dole which was washed away during the flash-floods that hit her serene village in August.

But for the 63-year-old widow, the pre-fabricated bamboo home with polished flooring is beautiful and cozy enough to keep her family warm in the bone-chilling winters.

Like Dole's, about 150 families in the area have been or in the process of getting these homes which are being built by National Mission of Bamboo Applications, Department of Science and Technology within record time of about two months.

Unlike conventional homes made of cement and stones that are difficult to be constructed, the bamboo houses are proving to be a big relief as they can be erected within 24 hours. These houses are also earthquake and fire resistant, and can withstand temperatures up to minus 40 degree Celsius.

The region, the highest place in country, is also notorious for its oxygen scarcity which makes it difficult for the labourers from other parts to get acclimatised and work with same efficiency as they do in other parts.

In such an atmosphere, these light pre-fabricated bamboo panels which are specially designed, manufactured with proper insulating material to withstand such cold temperatures are brought in by NMBA from manufacturers from Thissur in Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Kolkata and assembled here on a steel matrix foundation.

"Our main worry was as how will we survive the winters with no roof over our head. The winters here are really difficult here with temperatures dipping to minus region.

Construction work is also difficult because shortage of necessary material and labourers. One day, these people (NMBA experts) came and constructed home in just one day," she said.

Another resident of Skurbchan village, about 160 kilometers west of Leh town, Nawang Tashi was also surprised when he saw a home being built with such an ease. "It was like a magic for us. We had lost all hopes of getting a home before winters setting in. This is such a relief.

Now we can concentrate on stocking supplies for winters which also got washed off during floods," Tashi said.

Mission Director Sanjiv Nair told PTI that majority of work was complete and initial target of about 150 homes will be completed by November 15.

"We have developed capacity of manufacturers through technical intervention and training across the country which is coming handy now. They are dispatching prefabricated structures for four to five houses every day. It takes seven days for them to reach Leh by road and then another 24 hours to construct them," Nair said.