The forest department is going green and wants to keep its carbon footprint low. Braving wild elephants, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies of the Mysore-based National Institute of Engineering (NIE-CREST) has built an eco-friendly anti-poaching camp, incorporating renewable energy and sustainable technologies that can be a model for other forest departments.
The camp, ‘Aranyaka’, is built at a project cost of Rs 8.8 lakh in Avarepura, in the Moleyur forest range, Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary. The work was initiated in April last and was completed in six months.
“This is the first-ever eco-friendly, sustainable and renewable energy-based anti-poaching camp. This can bring in the concept of green building, good comfortable stay for forest watchers. By adopting the model, the forest departments can become leaders in low-carbon footprint among others, a vital need of the day,” NIE-CREST director Shamsunder told Business Standard.
The camp is built with locally-procured material and stabilised mud blocks prepared at the Moelyuru Range Forest Office site using local soil, sand and 9 per cent cement. About 5,000 such blocks are used for its construction. Unlike traditional clay bricks, these blocks do not require fire for burning. Instead, they are sun cured for 21 days. They provide thermal comfort inside the unit. In addition, the stabilised mud block masonry does not need plastering, he said.
Considering deficit of water, the professor said rainwater harvesting had been incorporated in the building to meet the demand for water for a major part of the year. About 40,000 litres can he harvested in a year, helping with water conservation. An 8,000-litre underground storage facility and a 1,000-litre overground level tank were added features of the scheme.
Utilisation of solar energy does not essentially fulfill the task of energy conservation. If solar energy is used with LEDs, efficiency will be markedly better. Eight solar LED bulbs, along with walkie-talkie and mobile chargers ensure uninterrupted power supply making the unit self-reliable in power.
Efficiency of conventional cook stoves is less than 10 per cent and releases an enormous amount of smoke. Its poor thermal insulation leads to waste of heat. To overcome this, two fuel-efficient biomass cook stoves with a higher efficiency of 45 per cent and a bath stove have been provided to conserve wood and create smoke-free environment, Shamsunder added.
“Working in the wild forest provided us with a different experience and challenges during the project implementation. Wild jumbos once attacked our construction site and destroyed eight cement bags. We had to increase the elephant trench depth and width,” he narrated his experience. The entire project was designed by NIE-CREST and Voice for Wildlife Trust, Mysore as a joint venture with Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mumbai and Tiger Conservation Foundation, Bandipur.
Inaugurating the newly built ‘Aranyaka’, NIE Secretary N Ramanuja offered more eco-friendly technologies developed by CREST to the Forest Department. Project Tiger Field Tiger B J Hosamat complimented CREST for developing a model camp with unique features that suited a wildlife sanctuary. Shamsunder requested the Department to adopt these technologies in more anti-poaching units.