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Tuesday, Apr 02, 2002

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`Homing' in on greener pastures

Rukmini Priyadarshini

Another `green' revolution...


EVEN as once-serene Bangalore is now universally dubbed the silicon city and apartment blocks and highrises change its skyline forever, the city's techies and corporate elite are homing in on greener options for their living spaces.

While nothing so mundane as a suburb will do for these charmed citizens of corporate Bangalore, a ``ruburban'' choice has been the eco-sensitive 47-acre spread about 15 km away from the city, that is Trans Indus.

A project by the not-for-profit Biodiversity Conservation (India) Ltd (BCIL), Trans Indus emphasises not only ``greening" but also on "establishing a sustainable system to improve the utilisation of resources for the urban creatures of Bangalore,'' says Mr Hariharan, Director.

Barely three per cent of the campus is demarcated for plinth area — the rest constitutes common areas and afforested land.

Residents include the likes of Mr `Krish' Gopalakrishnan, Deputy Managing Director, Infosys; Mr Vikram Kaushik, Vice President, Marketing and Exports, Britannia Industries; Mr Sridhar Rao, Vice-President, Hutchison Max; and Mr Pradip Singh, CEO, Aditi Technologies. These residents are "eco-aware" and not only have the resources for the admittedly steep costs of an experimental colony such as this, but also "the education and sensitivity to appreciate the objectives of the project,'' says Mr Hariharan.

With almost kibbutz-like overtones, the Trans Indus community emphasises reducing dependence on the State for resources such as power and water.

It has its own biomass gassification plant to generate electricity for peak-load consumption by the community and has established systems to recharge ground water reserves.

The houses use energy-efficient building materials.

``That means no air-conditioning, no bathtubs, reduced use of steel, whose manufacture is energy-intensive, and preference to plantation timber over forest produce,'' says Mr Hariharan.

``Our residents have avoided the use of RCC roofs; instead, they use cuddappah roofs, screed concrete with nominal reinforcement and hollow clay bricks,'' Mr Hariharan says.

BCIL is not into researching or innovating eco-friendly building materials. "We are bringing the known elements and practices together for the benefit of our residents who also buy into the concept and idea behind such a project.''

Trans Indus encourages the use of indigenous varieties of trees and plants in the community's greening efforts; makes its own bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides and, as a norm, residents have agreed that turfed area not exceed 20 per cent of a resident's garden - lawns being highly water-intensive.

The campus has 80,000 plants that will provide phenomenal green cover in a few years as the trees' canopies spread and "a low-cost, low-technology, low-labour drip irrigation system is in place for the afforestation programme''.

All this does not mean back to the dark ages for the residents. After all, the residents are among the tech-titans of Bangalore — successful professionals in IT and advertising high-flyers.

There is a electronic village-like atmosphere that surrounds the campus with voice, data and cable network, CD library, 24-hour Net access, a club house, health centre, hydrotherapy, conference facilities, tennis courts, a meditation centre and a pool.

So what if the talk sounds rather Greenpeace, it still caters to a long-felt need of city creatures everywhere.

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