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Habitat And Aditya Birla Group’s Trust Dedicate 119 Houses for Tsunami-Hit Families in Tamil Nadu, India

Houses in coastal village designed for protection against earthquakes and floods

TAMIL NADU, 13th July 2006: Nearly 120 tsunami-affected families in southern India can look to a new life when they receive Habitat houses from the local government.

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Strengthened: A typical Habitat house in Thazhankuda is not only earthquake-resistant but also protects against floods by providing roof access through an external staircase.

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Handover: Mrs Rajashree Birla presenting a symbolic key to Cuddalore district collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi.

Habitat for Humanity India has completed 119 houses in the coastal Thazhankuda village, Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu. Cuddalore was among the worst-hit districts in the 2004 tsunami that claimed more than 6,500 lives on the country’s south-eastern coast.

The project cost some 30 million rupees (about US$ 650,640). Habitat’s partners include Aditya Birla Group’s Tanfac Jan Seva Trust that contributed half of the cost, the Rotary Club of Mumbai and the district government. The Aditya Birla Group has been providing post-tsunami relief to the community in Cuddalore where its chemicals company Tanfac Industries is also located.

A ceremony for handing over the houses was held recently. The guests included Rajashree Birla, chairperson of Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, M H Upadhyaya, Tanfac Industries’ executive president and Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Cuddalore district collector. Village council members and HFH India representatives James Samuel and Joseph Scaria were also present.

In her speech, Mrs Birla commended the people’s resilience and fortitude in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. She also expressed her appreciation for Habitat’s involvement in the project, adding: “I would also like to take this opportunity to request all of you, the new inhabitants of these houses, to maintain them as a model village, always clean, green and happy.”

Mrs Birla then presented a symbolic key to Mr. Bedi representing the handover of the houses. The government will allocate the houses to the families in need.

The Habitat houses in Thazhankuda village were each 323 sq. ft. in size and featured earthquake-resistant construction technology. The houses are strengthened against earthquakes with a lateral force resistance system. This method uses a grade-beam, plinth band, continuous lintel and roof beam that hold all the reinforced concrete columns together.

The house design comprises a bedroom, living area, kitchen, front porch and toilet. An external staircase leads to the roof, a design required by the district government to protect occupants from future flooding.

The Aditya Birla Group is among India’s largest conglomerates with businesses ranging from aluminium and copper to finance and insurance. The Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development is responsible for the group’s community projects in areas such as infrastructure, health and women’s empowerment.