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KARACHI: Heritage Foundation of Pakistan working for sustainable conservation of Makli, one of the largest necropolises in the world, has completed its “Safe shelter and clean water project” for the mendicant community living around the site.

Architect and chairperson of the foundation, Yasmeen Lari sharing the effort initiated under the theme ‘Green Shelters’ project at Makli Goth, said it was aimed at providing quality and self-reliant existence to the poorest of the poor.

“These people mainly comprising beggars and nomads are being helped to live with dignity and self-respect,” she said, mentioning that the low-cost integrated approach has been adopted for construction of shelters, raised water hand-pumps, eco-toilets, Pakistani chulahs (stoves), solar water racks, and women centres.

Answering a query, she said the project is extremely pertinent as the community members are in a better position to not only own the heritage site but also assist authorities in its protection against different threats.

With regard to the project itself, Lari said “remarkable results are being achieved with the investment of only Rs 30,000 per household”.

The foundation was said to have already provided 650 of the 1,000 living quarters to the families while the rest are in the process of completion.

Known as Lari OctaGreen or LOG Shelters comprising octagonal shaped, pre-fabricated bamboo paneled lodging are not only earthquake and flood resistant but the traditional vernacular inspired conical roofs provide safety from rain and keep the shelters cool throughout the scorching summers.

Under the scheme 1,000 shelters are to be constructed along with 250 raised water hand-pumps, 500 eco-toilets, 1,000 Pakistan chulahs, 1000 raised platforms, 500 solar water racks and 20 women’s centres.

Of the 500 green eco-toilets 325 toilet cubicles have been set-up similar in construction to LOG fitted with a liquid pan WC, a cover with seat, allowing the periodic removal of waste for making organic compost, which when sold is a source of regular income.

There is also a tiled shower space annexed to each of these cubicles further supplemented by raised earthen platform water pumps.

Lari mentioned that the installation of 215 pumps from the promised 250 has been done and that these are designed in two levels separating clothes washing platform from the one used to procure water for drinking.

The conservationist is fully conscious of the atmospheric pollution induced threats to people, particularly the marginalised sections, are exposed to, and also referred to the introduction of zero carbon fuel efficient stoves, commonly known as Pakistan chulahs for the Makli Goth community. Six hundred earthen chulahs from the 1,000 were said to have been completed serving also as a family dining and socialising place.

This earthen chulah boasts double stove combustion chambers, chimney, air regulation pipe, utensils storage, and washing area, with multiple benefits over the open floor-mounted single stove that is used throughout the country in villages.

To another query, Lari said that since steady and regular income generating activities for the community members was an essential component of the program hence community women’s centres, and community and bamboo workshop for men have also been developed.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018