A three day exchange program was organized for the LAP’s in Thiruvengadu, Sirkali Taluk district, Tamil Nadu. a total of 32 members (ISED - 14, Praxis - 11, TNDTF - 2, ODTF -2, A & D - 3) participated in this program on 6th, 7th & 8th of September 2006.
Site visits were arranged to the ISED work area to see the different reconstruction and rehabilitation projects that the organisation is involved in. Discussions were held on habitat issues and an insight was provided on some cost effective and low cost technologies in construction like rat trap bond, fillers slab, retrofitting etc. by the technical team from TNDTF & ODTF.
The program started with an introduction of the exchange program objectives and a brief presentation to habitat issues. This was followed by a presentation on ISED - its vision, objectives, work and future path by Mr. Logonathan the chairperson of ISED. The next session was the technical presentation by the TNDTF & ODTF members about their experience of working in this Tsunami affected area, the relevant issues and factors responsible for a sustainable habitat and the appropriate construction technologies that can be used in creating sustainable and cost effective housing & habitat.
The discussion on other aspects of habitat was also taken and roughly catagorised into - physical & community structure, Basic amenities & human interaction.The relevant issues raised were about the problems in mainstreaming these alternative technologies mainly the resistance from the major players in the construction industry. Another key issue discussed was about lack of faith and trust in traditional knowledge based technologies and approaches for its revival.
All the participants visited the construction project sites and saw the model house constructed by TNDTF & ODTF. They were demonstrated the different technologies used and got to see this in different stages of construction. Then also visited the handicraft training, production & manufacturing unit that ISED has set up for the women as an alternate source for livelihood and income generation. The participants also visited the Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) where information is available for the local people and discussed the information that is usually sought by these people. They also visited a desalination project run at Thennampattinam and a collective farming project at Mathampattinam.
On the last session a visit was arranged to the project site of Development Alternatives (DA) in Karaikkal. DA’s representative gave a presentation on the work of their organization and explained about the FAL - G block technology, training and production. These blocks are being used in the construction of 1200 houses in Karaikkal district (Kottucherri - 500, Karaikkalmedu - 525 and Kelingalmedu - 149)and he discussed the labor problem being faced by them in these projects.
The formal session and visits were interspersed with visits to tourist sights of Poombukar and Velannkanni church and singing competition, games that all members participated with full vigor and enjoyment.