Uncensored write up version of A-level student from Karachi Grammar School about Gul Bahao’s activities

As a child, being interested in the cleanliness of the environment, my one month internship at the Gul Bahao Research Centre during the summer of 2015 proved to be an invaluable learning experience for me, as I wish to pursue an environmental-oriented career in the near future. Despite being a small organization, the initiative which the staff takes in trying to promote re-cycling and re-using of garbage is commendable. None of this would have been possible without the guidance of the organization’s founder, Ms. Nargis Latif.

Over the past two decades, the organization has suggested numerous green solutions to keep our surroundings clean and reduce consumption of expensive resources. The organization’s most valuable contribution towards recycling of waste material is the ingenious “Chandi Technology”. The technology consists of “wastic blocks” and “panaflex panels” made out of clean, unused factory wastes such as defected labels and wrappers. Instead of burning this “valuable” garbage, unused factory waste is given a new lease of life by being sent to the Gul Bahao Research Centre to manufacture blocks and roof panels, which are further utilized to construct make-shift shelters, cheap and sturdy houses, mobile toilets, furniture and water tanks/swimming pools. The garbage is wrapped in silver foil to give the building material a distinctive appearance, as well as acting as an insulating material for shelters. The blocks are light in weight, thus making them mobile and easy to use as construction material. This feature allows rapid construction of shelters with aid of relatively less man power. The cost of constructing such structures is low enough to make it affordable for common man, thus serving as a cheap alternative to brick shelters or expensive plastic and wooden furniture. Last but not least, the Chandi blocks and panels are able to withstand all weather extremes, be it sunlight, heavy rainfall, or gusty winds. Thus, the recent Chandi Technology is a modern, eco-friendly solution to every problem.

The organization’s other initiatives include “Paaki Paani”, where tap water is filled into transparent plastic bottles and left in sunlight for a few hours. The ultraviolet rays of the Sun kill most of the bacteria present in the water within a span of 3 to 4 hours. This method is not only a cheap and efficient method to purify water, but also reuses plastic bottles which are usually thrown away. If brought into mass usage, Paaki Paani technology can help solve the global shortage of clean drinking water, thus bringing clean, germ free drinking water to the masses.

Gul Bahao’s “Choora Chaara” technology converts fruit and vegetable to compost, which can then be marketed as a cheap alternative to expensive, branded cattle feed. The organization has also invented ingenious fuel packs, each weighing ten to twelve kilograms, with dimensions 6x17x21 inches. The fuel pack is an environmental friendly alternative to fossil fuels, as they do not release toxic fumes, and at the same time, are cheap to produce and easy to transport, requiring no special transportation method unlike oil and natural gas. Non-toxic industrial wastes such as wood, cloth and bits of paper are wrapped in aluminum foil, which is slow burning, and helps to give long-lasting energy when burnt.

It is a shame that the general public does not take Gul Bahao’s eco tips as a solution to their daily problems. It is also sad to learn that the government is not funding or paying heed to any of the organization’s research programs. However, with the passage of time, I hope to see Gul Bahao’s simple, yet highly useful innovations come to use, as they not only reduce a person’s expenditure, but also aid in keeping the environment neat and clean.

Shahan D. Engineer

Research Center

NED University, environment department students visit Gul Bahao complex

Yesterday, a group of students numbering 70 (seventy) from the environment department of NED university came on a study tour of the Gul Bahao Complex located on Rashid Minhas road, the students were amazed to see a Research Center run on a self help basis especially when they were told that about seven crore rupees spread over s period of fifteen years, have so far been spent on the different projects. The question that they kept raising was how it was funded. The answer that was shot back was “beg, borrow or steal”. The students were divided into four groups and shown around the centre. Habib Malik a spokesman of the Center showed the students around especially the Safai/Kamai Bank which is the earning arm of the Organisation. Habib said that  the Safai/kamai bank (A modern version  of the Kabaria)  funds more than 60% of the research work of  Gul Bahao. Habib said that from day one the Organisation has been involved in commercial work i.e. buying and selling of assorted wastage (which has a ready market ). Had it not been for this, Habib the Incharge proudly claimed, Gul Bahao would not have been able to function. Partly agreeing with her spokesman, Nargis Latif the Managing Trustee of Gul Bahao said that the project was too big to be sustained entirely on its own funds and at times even had to borrow from money lenders at exorbitant rates. She further claimed that that Gul Bahao is doing both research and extension work.

The students evinced special interest in the fuel pack which the Organisation claims is cheap fuel  for running power plants The spokesman  Habib said that Attock Cement had shown keen interest in this project and offered to buy 500 tonnes per day of this fuel for its cement plant. At this point Nargis Latif exhorted the students to lobby with the government for using Karachi’s waste to produce electricity. Gul Bahao would provide the fuel at economic rates but also help producers to make these fuel packs in the cottage industries.

The students were shown all the innovations in minute detail. The hall in which they were seated fascinated them completely as except for bamboo sticks no conventional material was used. It was said that the building blocks were made from a mixture of compressed shopping bags and aluminium foil. The so called wastic blocks will last till eternity for the simple reason that plastic does not disintegrate easily, it was claimed.

The Chairperson of Gul Bahao said that the Chinese revolution was accompanied by simple indigenous technology and this is precisely the way Gul Bahao is working and devising cheap and original solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Nargis said that Gul Bahao can be called an Environmental Organisation whose philosophy is recycling is the answer to our problems. She said that though she believes in going “back to nature” for solving todays environment problems she is not averse to using pet bottles, shopping bags and other conveniences of modern life. The NED students were clearly impressed by all that they said. A few went to the extent of hugging the young spokesman Habib Malik. Several volunteered to work for Gul Baho in their free time

NED University students visit Gul Bahao’s Research Centre

Yesterday, a thirty six member delegation of NED students came on a study tour of Gul Bahaos Research Centre located in Gushan-e-Iqbal. This centre is the first of its kind in the whole of Pakistan and has attracted hundreds of people from different walks of life especially NGO workers, representatives of local bodies, students, architects and journalists and even foreigners. The organisation claims that being public oriented its doors are open to all and sundry. The staff of Gul Bahao took pains to explain all the six innovations right from Paaki Paani, Chandi Ghar Safai /Kamai Bank, Fuel pack to the latest innovation, Choora Chaara  (cattle feed ) etc. Nargis Latif,  the  CEO of Gul Bahao said that these innovations were not created in a single day but took almost 15 years. Each innovation being unique, took place separately and evolved after several trials and experimentation. What is more she said they have been tried and tested, some even marketed. To a question how the cattle responded to the Choora Chaara, Gul Bahao’s  manager Habibullah responded that the cattle feed  has been fed to  a number of cattle (owned by the workers of Gul Bahao)  who eat it just like the conventional feed . The CEO of Gul Bahao said that the importance of the Gul Bahao’s Research Centre lies in its being a part and parcel of a real life situation, being located right in the midst of a thickly populated area. The participants, being students of engineering evinced keen interest in the fuel pak, a very inexpensive alternate fuel  made from waste material and which Gul Bahao claims can be used  for running power plants. Describing the condition of research in the country as “tragic”. Nargis said that even those who raise a hue and cry about the lack of science and scientific spirit in the country are not willing to consider informal and original ways of conducting research and improvising as is continually being done in the cottage industries and the informal sector. Nargis claimed that each and every innovation of Gul Bahao has the potential to change the entire socioeconomic condition of the country. She informed the participants that the Sindh Government  has directed its departments to give away their  waste paper to Gul bahao as revenue  for  its research work. Pointing to the area adjoining the Research Centre Nargis  said that the area spread over several acres and housing hundred of jhuggi wallas would be used for the practical implementation of Gul Bahao’s research program.