In the treeless desert of Tharparkar the scene is the Civil Hospital of Mithi. At the entrance everyone ( both rich and poor) stops to stare at a 25×35 ft. silver structure glittering in the hot sun. They have never seen a Chandi Ghar (a product of Karachi) before. As they enter they are pleasantly surprised to find it cool despite the absence of fans and air conditioners.
The Chandi ghar Rest house, a prefabricated structure was completed in five days by an NGO Gul Bahao on the 12th of April. It is a gift from the middle class civil society of Karachi for the people of Thar. City School Darakshan Campus ,Foundation Public School and Rotary Club Defence are the apparent donors of the rest house but silent donors run into hundreds. These include professionals,teachers,businessmen,as well as companies who give their commercially viable wastage for free.
The rest house is being used since the day the roof was put in. it is mainly used by the relatives of patients who come to the hospital. A plus point of the structure is its potential to remain clean as the entire structure is made of plastic. There is a total absence of mud or cement. Its sheer novelty is attracting people from far and wide who are now interested in buying this technology to make homes,madrassas,warehouses etc.
In the meantime,the CEO of Gul Bahao has appealed to both the provincial and federal government, Karachi’s businessmen and entrepreneurs to support the Chandi technology which has costed crores of rupees to develop and decades to evolve. Referring to the governments Youth loan program Nargis Latif said that the Chandi technolgy ( which uses plastic factory waste to make houses,water reservoirs, furniture and rugs) can become a part of the scheme. The best part is that very little investment is required while the market potential is enormous!
While Pakistan’s Punjab was witnessing the launch of the “Azadi March” on the 14th of August, Karachi’s Expo Center was witness to a rare spectacle. At one of its ends Gul Bahao’s 20′ x 24′ Chandi Ghar with its stunning looks was shining brilliantly in the sun, while thousands of middle class Karachites were “marching up and down” to view the international exhibition organised by the Association of Builders and Developers ABAD at the Expo Center. Inside the Chandi Ghar, the workers of Gul Bahao including the organisation’s CEO were alternately holding up photographs and pointing to the items lying inside the prefabricated structure.
Amidst the sound and fury of the hundreds of people who kept coming in and out of the Chandi Ghar, the workers took pains to explain what the Chandi Technology is all about. Calling it “Karachi’s gift to the World” they compared it with the mobile telephone. The workers were telling the visitors “Just as the mobile phone has changed the lives of people (the world over)with its multifaceted tasks, so too the Chandi block is inter convertible into a water reservoir, a two story house and furniture. “You can see all this yourselves”, they said, pointing to the light weight blocks in the roof of the Chandi Ghar and then to the tinseled sofas which consisted of exactly the same kind of blocks as in the ceiling. Again they pointed to photographs of swimming pools consisting of exactly the same kind of blocks as in the walls. Other large sized pictures showed Chandi Ghars built in Thar, on the Super highway, Mansehra, right in the middle of Karachi, in Gulshan-e-Iqbal etc. It was claimed that 150 structures including large sized halls have been built all over the country.
While the visitors kept visiting the Chandi Ghar all day, strong winds were blowing. It even rained for a short time, yet the Chandi Ghar remained unaffected by it all. The steady stream of visitors kept encouraging the dedicated workers of Gul Bahao by enlisting their names for helping to promote the new technology as buyers and as participants of Gul Bahaos Rozgar La Mehdood (Opportunities unlimited) wherein the organisation plans to to train educated youth in its innovations.As night approached, the Chandi Ghar under the influence of the artificial lights began to take on a fairy tale look, drawing crowds of visitors, including a delegation of senior members of the Association of Builders and Developers. The delegation assured the Gul Bahao team of their full support.
Yesterday, the 13th of June was another milestone in Gul Bahao’s history when a meeting was held at the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the Chandi technology developed by Gul Bahao during the last 15 years or so. The meeting was attended by Gul Bahao’s Nargis Latif in addition to Mr. Kalusha Kingsley of the United Nations office for south cooperation and Mr. Idrees of the ICCI . The meeting was in fact the culmination of several weeks interaction on the internet. First of all a brief report was presented by Mr. Kingsley which along with photographs described salient features of the new technology:
- He said, “Being plastic it is hygienic it is mud houses that are the sources of infection”. “Where there is no illness there is no poverty”, remarked the CEO of Gul Bahao.
- It is low cost. A 10×12 room costs as little as 15,000 and easy to put up.
- It is strong against the elements viz. wind storms, rains, termites etc.
- It is cool in summer and warm in winter. Here Nargis Latif interjected that it is this very quality that has adhered itself to the people of Thar where hundreds of people are anxiously waiting for it.
The CEO of Gul Bahao described the discovery of the Chandi Ghar as phenomenal and totally in sync with 21st century requirements. Addressing the U.N representative Nargis said that by supporting the Chandi technology the United Nations will be coming closer to its cherished Millennium development goals of making life easier for the common man.
Comparing the Chandi technology with the mobile technology, Nargis said that just as the mobile technology has changed the course of human life so too the Chandi block because of its prefabricated and modular nature will bring about another technological revolution. A two story Chandi Ghar can easily be converted into a water reservoir, furniture (including sofas, beds etc ) and vice versa. According to the Gul Bahao head, a significant aspect of the development of this technology has been crores of rupees invested in its research and extension. Looking back into the years 2000-2007, the aftermath of the 9,11 event has been a blot on mankind. At the same time, a lot of money poured into Karachi which became a huge laboratory for Gul Bahao’ s experiments, she remarked. Both the representatives of the ICCI and UNSCC offered to get investment from various sources for developing the Chandi Technology. In addition they agreed to promote it on various international fora in the middle east as well as in the U.S.A. They said videos and large sized photographs would be used in foreign exhibitions. In addition small real life replicas would also be put up in the exhibitions, they declared.