Shelter Associates attends the Sanitation Hackathon

From 30th November to the 2nd December 2012 Shelter Associates attended (and part sponsored) the World Bank’s Sanitation Hackathon.  This was a global event involving multiple cities across the globe where software engineers gathered together for an intense exercise to create applications for mobile technology which can help to address the issue of sanitation.

For more information about the event please visit the official web site at

As part of the Sanitation Hackathon, Shelter Associates wrote a problem statement (design brief) which suggested that the software engineers produce a mobile application which would allow data collected within the slums to be directly uploaded to the Shelter Associates On-line Survey System.  While all of the software engineers who attended the hackathon in Pune chose to work on other problem statements many of them expressed interest in working with Shelter Assoicates on our problem statement after the event.

56 columns or 40 columns?

The contractor who has been engaged to carryout construction on two sites (Sanjay Nagar Miraj, and Phase 1 of Indira Nagar Gharkul) as part of the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Program (IHSDP) in Sangli & Miraj has decided to revert back to Shelter Associates original design.  Even though Shelter Associates had prepared a complete set of detailed structural drawings, the contractor had commissioned another design team to prepare structural drawings for these contracts.

Shelter Associates observed that the contractors design team had altered the structural design and highlighted this to the Sangli, Miraj & Kupwad Municipal Corporation (SMKMC) and the contractor; which prompted the contractor to conduct a cost comparison.

The contractor found that the Shelter Associates design is much more cost effective, provides more flexible residnetial units, provides a more efficient parking area, and is quicker to construct.  This is all because the Shelter Associates design requires fewer columns, meaning fewer foundations, less excavation work, less concrete, less steel, and less labor; Shelter Associates design requires 40 columns per building (approximately 7 columns per residential unit) as opposed to the 56 columns (9 columns per residential unit) which were proposed by the contractors design team.  The Shelter Associates design also provides a more flexible plan for the beneficiaries as it does not require the contractor to form a column in the middle of the residential unit.

Unfortunatly, the contractor had already started 10 of the 14 buildings at Sanjay Nagar Miraj before conducting the cost comparison.  This means that 10 of the 14 buildings  are being built using the less cost effective design which takes longer to construct.

Municipal Commissioner Visits Sanjay Nagar Miraj.

On 28th May 2012 the Municipal Commissioner of the Sangli, Miraj and Kupwad Municipal Corporation (SMKMC) visited the Sanjay Nagar construction site in Miraj.  During this site visit issues associated with the site were discussed. Several beneficiaries who were present on this visit, requested the commissioner to stick to the original DPR that has sanctioned an accessible terrace which they require for several activities like drying clothes, pickle and papad making, social functions, compost bio degradable waste etc.

At the behest of the SMKMC, the contractor’s design team modified the Shelter Associate’s  design of providing an accessible terrace as per the approved DPR (sanctioned by the Government of India) and switched to an inaccessible sloping slab instead.

Shelter Associates have been providing detailed cost comparison to the Sangli, Miraj, & Kupwad Municipal Corporation (SMKMC) since April 2011 informing them of the reasons why the beneficiaries require an accessible terrace; proving that an accessible terrace is actually cheaper than a sloping slab; and requesting them to instruct the contractor to revert back to the approved design. In the review meeting on site, the beneficiaries reiterated that they  wanted a terrace and not a sloping slab. Shelter Associates also brought it to the notice of the SMKMC that the GOI had sanctioned Rs. 15,000 per family as a full subsidy for common infrastructure like staircase, verandahs and parapet walls which was not part of the costing for the tenement.