Shriti Pandey from Gorakhpur built two COVID hospitals in remote areas using sustainable materials derived from agri-waste within 80 days. An innovation that can help us scale up our medical infrastructure in time and prepare for the third wave.
In the tough times of the second wave of COVID-19, people are running from pillar to post for medical requirements. While India is struggling with the inadequate health infrastructure, a young entrepreneur from Gorakhpur is helping to construct hospitals in record time. Shriti Pandey, 29, has stepped in to rewrite the rules with her construction company, Strawcture Eco. She built two COVID care centres in Patna and Jalandhar in under 80 days using agricultural waste.
The setting up two COVID care centres in Punjab and Bihar.
She set up the first COVID care centre in Patna for Doctors For You in collaboration with Selco Foundation. Shriti recalls the foundation approaching her in April 2020. They asked if she could quickly construct a facility that would be cost-effective and eco-friendly. Her team took the challenge head-on and readied the 6,000-square feet facility with a capacity of close to 100 beds in 80 days. The facility had separate rooms for patients who would need oxygen cylinders and ventilators. The second centre was ready in Jalandhar in 30 days. Almost 60% of the work was completed in Shriti’s workshop. And then, the team used screws and bolts to assemble the structure on-site.
What’s Special About the COVID care centres made of bio panels?
These COVID care centres run entirely on solar power to combat the electricity problems. Shriti explained how the bio panels used in the construction are thermally insulated to provide comfort to patients with breathing problems. The team used Silica for roofs and walls to keep the interior cool. They used a lamination technique to make the floors durable despite the regular use of disinfectants and sanitisation. She further explained that having agri-panels saved a lot of time compared to concrete that uses water and has a drying period of up to 20 days. They have used foam-like material and put up 400 panels within five days.
“The best part”, Shriti exclaimed, “was we could provide employment opportunities to a lot of local workers around this time. We saved resources by using eco-friendly materials.” Despite challenges ranging from finances to COVID restrictions, the project turned out to be a massive success. She also shared that anyone can utilise this technology to build affordable structures in remote areas. “It feels great to be able to help my country in times of crisis. These centres have been running for some time now. The response has been amazing,” she said. In the current scenario, when there is a dire need for efficient medical infrastructure, we need a sustainable solution that can be assembled quickly.
Utilising Agri-waste To create Bio panels
Strawcture Eco essentially works toward creating a circular economy. It uses crop residue such as straw and husk to build bio panels as building blocks for the structures. After compressing the residual agri-fibres and combining them with a steel framework, the panels are prepared to build an entirely sustainable building solution. These panels are acoustic, thermal, termite and moisture resistant. They are an effective alternative to the materials like plywood, gypsum and fibre cement boards. While this groundbreaking construction technology reduces stubble burning, it also cuts down on carbon footprint as it does not use cement, water, and wood. This housing solution takes less than half the construction time as compared to traditional methods.
How Shriti Found Her True Calling in Serving Others?
Hailing from a small town, Gorakhpur, Shriti completed her Masters in construction management in the US. Post this, she decided to live in New York City. However, a nagging feeling of returning to her roots didn’t leave her. She came back to India in 2016 and went on to win the SBI Youth Fellowship. After travelling far and wide in India and identifying the existing gaps in the construction industry, she laid the foundation of Strawcture Eco in June 2018. Now, her novel approach to building affordable houses is revolutionising the construction industry.
Shriti believes that the construction industry has immense potential in India. While it is the second biggest employer, it also utilises around 40% of natural resources globally. It is very important to build things sustainably and utilise the surplus agri-waste to create something new. Strawcture Eco plans to build acoustic products using bio panels and honeycomb. Shriti described how they would use the honeycomb as a core and wrap it up with these panels to build ceilings, walls, etc for better sound insulation. This will replace the toxic and carbon-intensive materials to build ecological infrastructure. She hopes of building a better future and would do everything she can to have it her way.