Chandi Ghars: Making a home out of garbage

Published: November 30, 2015
The Gulbahao Trust (GBT) exhibited models of blocks that were made of plastic waste and were covered in aluminium foil. According to the GBT team, it helps save garbage from being burnt. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The Gulbahao Trust (GBT) exhibited models of blocks that were made of plastic waste and were covered in aluminium foil. According to the GBT team, it helps save garbage from being burnt. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Instead of wasting your garbage, donate it to a team that knows how to use it properly. It makes a home, classroom, lecture hall, mobile house, mobile school and even a swimming pool out of garbage.

The Gulbahao Trust (GBT), in collaboration with the Karachi Commissioner Office, launched a two-day exhibition, titled ‘Karachi’s Gift to the World’ at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

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The GBT team members exhibited shining models of shelters, including a swimming pool. These were ‘Chandi Ghars’ – silver-coloured models of houses made of plastic garbage that Karachiities dump everywhere, that in turn block sewerage lines. The team also constructs real houses made of blocks of plastic and other waste material.

“The idea is to make trash-free neighbourhoods,” said GBT head Nargis Latif. “People burn garbage that is really harmful for the environment and humans alike,” she explained.

Instructing her team members to fix the ‘blocks’ made of plastic waste in order, Latif said, “Thousands of tons of such material is wasted in Karachi. We don’t use it properly but create a mess for ourselves.” She said that blocked sewerage lines in the city are a direct result of waste dumped everywhere. “We all contribute to climate change and we experienced its impact in the form of the recent heatwave,” she added.

She explained that the blocks are made up of plastic waste and other industrial waste that is covered in clean aluminium foil. She added that the GBT purchases the waste material from different factories. These blocks are guaranteed to last 100 years on the condition that proper cover of the aluminium is in place. “A damaged block can be removed and replaced easily,” she said.

She talked about one of the model houses. “This is a waterproof house,” said Latif. “It is warm in winter and cold in summer. One can make it on nominal charges and can move it from one place to another.”

Latif’s experience is spread over two decades. “It is a unique work and no one does such efforts anywhere in the world,” she claimed. Holding ‘donate your garbage’ stickers, the optimistic woman said that people will know the importance of her work. “We want a perfect environment around [us].”

According to GBT director Hanan, it is a low-cost project, which is easy and saves time. He said that more than 150 houses have been made in different areas of Sindh province, including Mithi, Badin and Thatta. “People with low incomes can afford it.”

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According to Afnan, a small room costs only Rs25,000. It is comfortable and less risky in natural calamities, he said. He said that if the shelter is damaged in any case, it can be reconstructed within a day.

Hanan said that his team also donated shelters to earthquake and flood-affected victims in Awaran, Balochistan, and other parts of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Humza
    Nov 30, 2015 - 4:42PM

    Extremely flammable and will burn to the ground within minutes. Recommend

  • Akbar Sait
    Nov 30, 2015 - 7:24PM

    I can understand the the concern about a potential fire hazard, although it seems likely that the aluminum foil cover would allow a reasonable time for escape before injury . Flammable materials are commonly used in this way all over the world and it is not difficult to provide effective precautions against the fire hazard. This use of waste plastic could be a wonderful solution to two problems , curbing pollution and proving low cost building materials. Recommend

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