HYDERABAD: Prashant Lingam and Aruna Kappagantula have started an organisation which built bamboo houses despite having all possible hindrances in their life. “It was all unplanned. It started with a search for a sofa set and ended up with a plan to get bamboo furniture to the city and now, across the country,” says Prashant.
In a village called Katlamara near the Indo-Bangladesh border, they went to search a sofa and found out the Bamboos are of immense use as an alternative to steel and cement. They leased some land and hired 20 craftsmen from Adilabad to begin work even though nobody trusted their potential, reported Indian Express.
“It was hard for the first three years as people weren’t very receptive to the idea back then. We ended up with a debt of `60 lakh. In addition to this, I broke my ankle and Aruna developed post-pregnancy complication which made us bed-ridden for close to a year and a half.”
“On top of it, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 restricts the transport of bamboo as they recognise it as a tree even though it is grass. In 2013, the government also closed their mission to promote bamboo. This was a big blow to us even though in 2004, its market potential was calculated at `26,000 crores by the government,” Prashant said.
Prashant and Aruna did a lot of efforts on their technique which became beneficial finally for them even though Prashant was a management dropout and Aruna was a science graduate.
“We aren’t engineers or architects but we know how bamboo works. This project provides employment for around five million people indirectly and directly,” he said.
Meanwhile, a principal of a school in Ramanthapur wanted a bamboo construction on his terrace and the one built by his architect earlier had collapsed. They approached him and told him that they would invest in the house – all he had to do was give them the place and one chance, which became their first break.
Universities like Harvard and Kellogs have come to study their business model and Aruna visited the USA after being invited by the government. Prashant will be going to Kenya to train the tribals.
They built 150 bamboo structures in 2015 and are in the process of building the largest single bamboo structure for the GHMC. “The same structure that is 2100 to 2400 per sft when built with cement and steel, now costs them 500 to 600 per sft. But what people must understand is that the bigger the bamboo structure is, the cheaper it is,” they informed.
Bamboo can only be cut by the tribes in Katlamara because of the law. So, it needs to be transported from Meghalaya which becomes a lot more expensive. The main structure is made of bamboo boards which are just like plywood.