Hyderabad: India is the second-largest producer of bamboo in the world after China but there is not much awareness in the country about its uses. Prashant Lingam and Aruna Kappagantula, who were recently featured in The Next 100 list which features social entrepreneurs from across the globe, wish to change that.
As a building material bamboo has over 1,500 listed applications. From aircraft wings to computer hardware, and from handicrafts to shelters, it is frequently used across sectors for its affordability, eco-friendly nature and tensile strength.
Prashant and Aruna are behind Bamboo House India, a six-year-old enterprise that aims at promoting the use of bamboo for structural purposes and also provide livelihood to rural and tribal artisans by connecting them to the market.
Aruna says, “Bamboo is a grass, so it grows much faster than the usual hard wood which takes around 35-40 years to reach its full height after being cut, whereas bamboo can be cut every 36 months without harming the green belt.”
It also has 35 per cent more oxygen content and a bamboo house, which can be built in just a month’s time, is also fire and water proof and can easily last up to 30 years.
Over the last few years, Prashant and Aruna have worked in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Apart from their housing projects in the city, they have built a gazebo at the US Consulate, a boat house at the Google office and a sitting area at the University of Hyderabad where they are constructing a Wi-Fi zone as well.But it has not always been this easy for the couple.
“There was a time when we didn’t have a single project coming our way and couldn’t pay the salaries of the 15 artisans from Adilabad who were working at our workshop in Uppal.”
“Around this time, we had a baby and Aruna developed post-pregnancy complications. I had also fractured my ankle and was bed-ridden for close to a year. Both of us were in a depression, but we decided that if we didn’t thrive in this initiative, we weren’t going to be successful anywhere else as well,” adds Prashant.
Today, the couple enjoys their work so much that they don’t feel the need to demarcate between their professional and personal lives. They have also recently started making furniture out of used tyres and have been developing a technique to make footwear from tyres as well.
“We are also looking towards building low-cost toilets for schools using bamboo, for as less as Rs 10,000 (a contractor takes up to Rs 3 lakh),” he adds....