Himachal village shows way in habitat development



    One of the new environment friendly houses

    Tucked away in the Salogra village of Himachal Pradesh is Barad Basti with a population of 492. Located in the picturesque district of Solan, the Basti is not just another spot of natural beauty in Himachal Pradesh. As you reach here you can’t help but notice the remarkable pakka houses.

    Constructed under the government scheme called Rural Housing and Habitat Development, these houses are no ordinary houses as they are earthquake resistant, cost effective and environment-friendly. These houses have been made by using scientifically tested and proven indigenous and modern techniques.

    Another outstanding feature of these houses is that each of them has a toilet, which reduces open defecation. Barad Basti is situated 8-km from the block headquaters of the Salogra Panchayat. Majority of the population in this Basti falls below the poverty line. Out of the 104 families inhabiting the basti, 84 are BPL families, and most of the people here have no permanent source of income generation. Given this, the housing project has given the people of this village a new lease of life, improved standards of living and a lot of stability.

    An old house

    The scheme has focused on appropriate building technologies, community participation, income generation, infrastructure and services, rural housing, self-help and social integration. The emphasis has been on involving the villagers at every level. There has been significant employment generation for local people through this scheme as they have been used as masons and labourers etc.

    The standards of hygiene in this village have improved considerably after construction of these well designed, sanitation friendly houses. Along with this, the village now has a proper school building, and people here are more aware of the benefits of education.

    The total number of beneficiaries is 62 in this basti and the sanctioned amount per head is Rs 35000. The selection criteria has been to select the poorest among the poor. Besides this, priority was given to the persons who do not own a house. In order to ensure fair selection, the beneficiaries were chosen by Gram Sabha. With the high success rate of this scheme in Salogra village, this can serve as a model for other such villages.

    The new school

    The Rural Housing and Habitat Development scheme was launched on 1st April, 1999. The rationale for this scheme is the need for standardising and popularising cost effective environment friendly housing technologies, designs and materials and evolving ideal types of sustainable rural human settlements consistent with agro climatic variations and natural disaster proneness. The objectives of the Rural Housing and Habitat Development is to promote innovative and proven housing methods, designs and materials in the rural areas. Further since housing is no longer merely a matter of constructing four walls and a roof, but involves the development of suitable, sustainable habitats, initiatives that lend themselves to superior habitat development are being supported. And the focus remains on creating more such success stories.

    The author is Deputy Director, PIB

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    1. Nice inspiring article. It’s good to hear about the positive and genuine schemes actually succeeding at the grass root level.

    2. Great work indeed. New facility is much better than the old one.

      Mud house construction will survive in this world of concrete jungles. Atleast that’s what I intend to do when I will build my home.

      A British architect Laurie Baker who started in India, the concept of low cost housing many years back can be great source of inspiration.

      Please see following link:


    3. as we move forwards being a more prosperous nation, one problem will keep us haunting-affordable house for the masses. standard concrete house can never be a solution as it is out of reach for most people leave alone the poor. yet housing is a fundamental requirement for a decent nation and society . but as it turns out, expensive modern housing has much simpler and affordable alternatives. houses made with mud and other natural and ecological resources. we are not day dreaming. this is what is being said by some of our most reapected engineers and architects all over the world. it is a matter of time they take shape. concrete housing is unvialble on economic, ecological and other considerations.



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