Low cost and hazard resistant houses for the nation

In early May 2019, cyclone Fani ravaged the coast of Odisha. Winds at 175 kms per hour and very heavy rains destroyed and damaged, among other things, lakhs of houses. However, some houses braved the raging winds and pouring rains. These houses stood firm and tall in spite of the battering. The houses that weathered through the cyclonic storm were the ones designed and built by the CSIR’s Central Building Research Institute (CSIR-CBRI).

In the year 2018, India’s largest and premier building research institute was approached by the Government of Odisha to provide technical assistance, support and guidance on housing designs and to suggest improvements.

Understanding the necessity of the project, CSIR-CBRI focused on capacity building of project administrators as well as Engineers, in order to accomplish the project deliverables with highest quality, precision and speed. Several training sessions of 5 days each were organised (online / offline) at CSIR-CBRI, where around 5000 engineers and artisans of Panchayati Raj Department of Government of Odisha participated. All these participants returned to their respective headquarters, acted as the master trainer to train fellow officers. As an outcome of combined efforts of CSIR-CBRI & Panchayati Raj Department of Government of Odisha, more than 9 lakh houses were constructed.

Impressed with the work of CSIR-CBRI, the Government of Odisha also requested CSIR-CBRI to help them establish a Rural Technology Park at Bhubaneshwar for demonstration, training and wider dissemination of alternative building technology in Odisha State.

CSIR-CBRI also performed a thorough study of the cyclone Fani damaged houses, identified the deficiencies and the suggested various measures for rebuilding safe and sturdy houses. The Government of Odisha sought the help of CSIR-CBRI for reconstruction of about 25 lakh houses affected by cyclone Fani.

A house to live in is a basic need of every human. The Government of India has affirmed its commitment to provide “Housing for All” by the year 2022. In pursuance to this goal, Pradhan Mantri Avas Yojna-Gramin (PMAY-G) scheme was approved to provide assistance for construction of pucca house in rural areas.

However, the short period of time and the limited resources do not support the traditional system of construction. The requirement is construct cost-effective rural houses for different geo-climatic conditions and addressing potential natural hazards prevalent in the country.

The CSIR-CBRI has been entrusted with the responsibility for architectural and structural validation of the rural housing designs by the United National Develop Programme (UNDP), under the advice of the Ministry of Rural Development of Government of India. The CSIR-Central Building Research Institute (CSIR-CBRI) has reviewed the designs by UNDP and has suggested appropriate S&T interventions to make the houses more durable, resistant to natural disasters and comfortable to live-in. Local materials were utilised to maximum extent in construction in order to achieve economy, acceptability of local society and employment generation.

For safety against earthquakes in low and moderate intensity zones and to protect from high winds it was suggested that all the walls of a house must be tied together using RC plinth, lintel, roof and gable bands so as to have integral box action. Where RC bands are not possible bamboo or timber bands may be used with secure connections at corners and junctions. Necessary interventions also suggested in foundations to meet the requirements of local hazards such as floods and swelling soil.

A comprehensive document “Pahal: Prakriti Hunar Lokvidya – A Compendium of Rural Housing Typologies” showcasing different designs of rural housing in Odisha state can be referred at following link: https://cbri.res.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pahal.pdf