This 23-year-old civil engineer from Telangana is turning sewage pipes into a low-cost housing solution

Perala Manasa had an idea, like most of us do. But she saw the idea through, put it into action after tons of research and here she is now, with people looking up to her and her solution...
OPod | (Pic: Vinay Madapu)
OPod | (Pic: Vinay Madapu)

The first home that Perala Manasa knew was in a small village called Bommakal in Karimnagar district of Telangana. Her father passed away when she was in class III and it was Manasa's mother who worked her fingers to the bone to keep things moving. Her school and the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society ensured that the young girl's horizons kept broadening, even beyond her own house. Yet, somehow, the world that lay outside her threshold was an alien place. "The outside world was so complicated for me," says the youngster, recalling her days in junior college.

The OPod is currently set up at her relative's house in Chengicherla, Hyderabad

Progressing towards Punjab
Her second home, albeit temporary, was Lovely Professional University, where Manasa had the opportunity to pursue her BTech in Civil Engineering. The vast campus that accommodated students from an equally vast world stunned Manasa, but only just. Even though her world kept expanding beyond her comprehension, in her heart, her home was not far away and as a part of her visit to slums, which she would undertake while involving herself in social activities, the plight of the homeless touched her heart.

The entrance | (Pic: Vinay Madapu)

"I would sit down and talk to them, ask them why they prefer to live in temporary homes even when the weather conditions outside would ensure that the roof came tumbling down upon their heads without a moment's notice,” she says. Then, she graduated. And if you are assuming that she outgrew the problems she witnessed around her and threw herself into the corporate world, it was exactly the opposite. Knowing the value of a stable home, she knew she had to devise a solution. So, the 23-year-old took the path of entrepreneurship.    

It was in her third year of BTech that this idea dawned on her and she slowly began working on it

A pipe dream come true
Research, research and then some more. That's what followed for Manasa and this involved her actually staying in bamboo houses in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. "Most of them had the same problem, that they could live in these houses for one or two weeks, but not for years and years," says the youngster. But it was while travelling that she came across those oversized sewage pipes and her idea came home. "These are usually used for pumping and supplying water but they do have a few durable qualities that make them ideal for a house. We very quickly got in touch with companies that manufacture them and one of them agreed to tweak it as per our requirements," says the Hyderabad-based youngster with a note of success in her voice. 

Interiors | (Pic: Vinay Madapu)

So, what were the tweaks? Since the pipes were made to withstand lots of pressure and that was not the need of the hour for them, the weight of the pipe was decreased. Holes also needed to be drilled in to add electricity and water supply links so a four-inch-long layer inside the pipe was added. As most of these pipes are made of reinforced cement concrete, which keeps things a little too cool for comfort, they added another material to stabilise the temperature inside the structure. And this is how the OPod was made and Samnavi Constructions was launched on January 31, 2021.

They started constructing the OPod on March 1, 2021 on site and finished it by March 28

Her big day came soon enough
It was on the blessed day of April 7, 2021 that these micro homes were visited by Dr RS Praveen Kumar, Principal Secretary, Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society. The Senior IPS Officer, in a tweet, gave a hat tip to this young innovator. And honestly, there is no other validation that she needs because now, the internet is buzzing with the news of this wonder girl and her affordable housing solution. "The model that was launched was that of a 1BHK with a small modular kitchen, cupboard, shelves and a Western toilet. There is also a foldable dining table and a bedroom that is 5x6 feet in size, complete with electricity, water and drainage facilities," she says with glee. She tells us that this is just one of the 12 designs they already have and though it would take 28 days to construct one such house, if they have even 70% of the funding they need, they can wrap it up in a record 15 days.

Dr RS Praveen Kumar with Manasa | (Pic: Perala Manasa)

The regular OPod has a diameter of 2,000 mm and in terms of area, it can go up to 120 sq ft with flat flooring to go with it all. She implores us to imagine the ripples this can create in the housing industry. "Suppose a landowner doesn't want to construct anything on his land yet, but still wants to make money out of it, they can use an OPod. Similarly, it could be used on pilgrimage sites, as cottages or farmhouses, which we have worked out a bigger pipe for, and so much more. Just imagine!" she says bubbling with possibilities. 

Apart from using the model to boost the state's tourism, Manasa hopes to work with the state government to ensure that everyone who dreams of a home finds it in one of her OPods.

More of mighty Manasa's achievements
- Chess took her to the nationals, handball to state and she even played district-level kho-kho and kabaddi
- Manasa was part of the first batch of trainees in the NGO Voice4Girls where she was trained as a leader and taught adolescent girls
- She even represented social welfare schools in UNICEF meetings in Bengaluru

For more on them check out

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