Telangana girl launches OPods or micro houses built of sewerage pipes at low-cost

Though primarily aimed at the underprivileged, Manasa has 12 different designs of experimental mobile housing that may suit different sectors.

While owning a house is everyone’s dream, making that come true is Perala Manasa’s dream. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old civil engineer announced the launch of OPods or micro homes in pipes comprising one bedroom with a built-up area 120 sq ft and made out of a concrete sewerage pipe of 2000 mm diameter.

Hailing from a poor family in Bommakal village in Telangana’s Karimnagar district, Manasa credits her single mother for inspiration and the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) for the education that enabled her to dream. After doing B.Tech (civil engineering) from Lovely Professional University in May 2020, Manasa spent another six months researching the designs prevalent in Japan, Hong Kong and other places to suit the local needs and weather conditions before registering a company in January 2021. The work on the first model began in March 2021.

Though primarily aimed at the underprivileged, Manasa has 12 different designs of experimental mobile housing that may suit different sectors.

The OPod comes with a bedroom, kitchen, hall, washroom, and shelves, and is equipped with electricity, water, and drainage. With a balcony-like lounge area over the tube, the OPod is best suited for one or two persons. “This is a first-of-its kind model in India. In 40 to 120 sq ft, we can have a customized movable all-weather home with a life span 100 years. The cost may come around Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 5.5 lakh,” said Manasa, adding that designs for two or three-bedroom homes are also available.

“I have seen how people live under thatched roofs in urban slums. And when it rains, they lose everything. The best part of OPod is that it is as good as a regular house and can be translocated.”

Though container homes are available in similar segments at present, Manasa says her OPods are cooler inside and have a longer life. Apart from low-cost housing for the poor, she has designs that could be used by resorts, restaurants, mobile homes, mobile clinics, guest houses, guardrooms, etc.

Senior IPS officer and Secretary, Telangana Social Welfare and Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society, Dr. RS Praveen Kumar recalls Manasa as a very active student. “She wanted to chart her course and pursue higher education which is rare in small villages. I found her idea (of affordable housing) radical. It’s just the beginning for her,” he told indianexpress.com.

Manasa belonged to the first batch of ‘voice for girls’ and was a trained ‘Sakhi’ (leader among the voice for girls campus). She represented the social welfare schools in UNICEF meetings in Bengaluru, Kumar said.

The OPod is set up at one of her relatives’ homes at Chengicherla in Hyderabad and Kumar kicked off the enterprise on Wednesday.

“I received no support from anyone when I wanted to take up this venture. No one was ready to fund my project, and instead pushed me back because I am a girl,” Manasa said.

“My father expired when I was in 3rd grade and since then my mother has worked very hard to bring up two girls. Without my mother, a small farmer who gave away all her earnings, my dream would not have come true.” Manasa’s younger sister Chaithanya is currently pursuing a degree course at the Armed Forces Preparatory Degree College for women, run by the TSWREIS.

“Though no one supported my daughter’s (Manasa’s) idea initially, I am very happy to see so many people sharing our happiness now. We are very happy. I want her to build affordable homes for the poor,” said Ramadevi, a very proud mother.

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