For officers of the Indian armed forces stationed at 12,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh, the lack of access to 24×7 electricity has forced them to turn to other heating solutions like burning diesel, kerosene or firewood. However, one person in Ladakh has found a solution that not only emits less pollution, but is also more efficient. He is
Sonam Wangchuk – the innovator who inspired the character played by Aamir Khan in the movie Three Idiots. The Indian Army has evinced interest in the innovation – a pre-fabricated solar heated mud hut. This eco-friendly solution requires little external heating. It is seemingly the perfect solution to the cold for many soldiers who come from the warmer plains.
“Solar heated passive structures are not new. However, these mud huts are movable, prefabricated, and can be assembled on the spot. The cost of heating will be zero. Even if the temperature outside is -200C, it will be +200C inside the hut, without any heating. This is going to get rid of all the pollution caused by the massive amounts of oil the Army consumes to keep the jawans warm,” says Wangchuk. The huts are oriented south, with a variation of 10-15 degrees, to maximise exposure to the Sun and facilitate passive heating of the buildings. According to a report in the India Climate Dialogue, the Indian Army will take up the construction of these structures in the forthcoming financial year starting April, after a slew of successful pilots. Wangchuk is popularly known for the ice stupa, but his most signifi cant contribution to Ladakh has been the establishment of the Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), which has revolutionised the education system in the region.
(Source: India Climate Dialogue/Himalayan Institute of Alternatives)
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