By: ANUPAMA V CHANDRA
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.
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 author is Deputy Director, PIB