Published: 14th May 2021
This Telangana girl is creating low-cost housing built of sewerage pipes for the poor. Here's how
The 23-year-old, who did engineering from Lovely Professional University (LPU), has designed OPod or micro house built of sewerage pipes, a first of its kind model in India
Coming from a modest background and nurtured amid hardships, Perala Manasa Reddy knows what it means for the underprivileged to have an own house.
A civil engineer, this girl from Telangana worked on the idea of micro-housing and came out with an affordable and all-weather model, which according to her suits best for Indian conditions and is also eco-friendly.
The 23-year-old, who did engineering from Lovely Professional University (LPU), has designed OPod or micro house built of sewerage pipes, a first of its kind model in India.
Made of concrete sewerage pipe of 2,000 mm diameter, these houses measure between 116 square feet to 240 square feet and cost anywhere between Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh.
One bedroom model is primarily designed for the underprivileged but she has prepared 12 different designs including two and three-bedroom ones to cater to different sectors.
These units come with a bedroom, attached washroom, kitchen, hall, shelves, furniture including bed and chairs and are equipped with electricity, water, and drainage system along with a lounge area on top of the OPod.
Ideal for a family of three, these micro homes can easily be translocated. Manasa last month founded her startup Samnavi Constructions along with Donthireddy Naveen Reddy, who is pursuing MBA from LPU.
She believes that the model can be useful for the affordable housing schemes of various state governments. According to her, the model can also be used by the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry as resorts, hotels, restaurants. "The healthcare sector can also use them as mobile clinics. They can also serve as guardrooms or guest rooms," she told the media.
She set up the first OPod at a relative's home at Chengicherla in Hyderabad and unveiled it last month to a huge response. Within a month, the startup bagged 140 orders in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other states. "These orders have come from different categories including orders for 12-15 houses for below poverty line families," she said.
However, the work on the orders is held up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We had to put everything on hold because of the pandemic. We are just hoping it to end so that we can work on the orders," she said.
She is also expecting an order from the Telangana government for building cottages near pilgrim sites.
Hailing from Bommakal village in Karimnagar district, Manasa lost her father when she was in Class 3. Brought up by her single mother, she braved all odds to come up in life.
After the schooling at Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS), Manasa did her civil engineering at Lovely Professional University (LPU). "When I came to LPU, my interest was towards and entrepreneurship. From the second year, I started doing service work by visiting slum areas and old age homes near my college. I used to interact with people who had migrated from different places for livelihood. None of them had a permanent house even in their own places. I thought since I am doing civil engineering, I should start working on finding a solution," she said.
Manasa believes she was lucky to have entrepreneurship as a subject in her fourth year and this helped her gain knowledge and interact with investors and those who had their startups.
When she had to return home because of a pandemic last year, she started research on housing by interacting with friends, families and others. She went through different housing concepts including micro-housing and houses which can be constructed in 24 hours.
I got to the conclusion that it can be budget-friendly only if we go for micro-housing. However, not all micro-housing solutions are very eco friendly or suitable for all weather conditions. Then I thought of choosing a model which is both economical and suit all weather conditions."
Though one finds OPod houses in Hong Kong and Japan, according to Manasa their design is different.
She pointed out that they are making changes in sewerage pipes used in the house. While normal pipelines for water supply and drainage are meant only to handle water pressure, the one they are using for housing has to be suitable for all weather conditions because they are placed above ground level and exposed to sun, wind and rains. They made some changes in design with an extra coating inside and the addition of some coolant.
Though she approached political leaders, people in the construction industry, family friends for funding of her project, no one came forward. "My mother came forward to fund it. She took a loan of Rs 4.5 lakh from a finance firm and that's how the startup began its journey. When we designed the model, people started believing us," she said.
She now plans to launch a cube-shaped housing model. "The one we have now is in a circular shape but the next one we are going to launch will be cube-shaped. Many people said that they prefer cube shape houses and that's why we decided to launch it to reach many more people."