We have met people who built homes or villas or apartments. But have you met anyone who is building a village? No! Then this story of Kalyan Akkipeddi is for you. You may ask me how the village being built by Kalyan is so different from other typical Indian villages. This village generates its own electricity through solar and wind power mill, harvests rainwater, grows its own food, has an alternative school, houses small social enterprises and a recent addition – a skateboard park.
Kalyan Akkipeddi: The Proto Village’s architect
In 2014, Kalyan bought 12.5 acres of barren land in Tekulodu village in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh and started building the ‘Proto Village’. The village is located in the second driest region in India. You may wonder why Kalyan is building a village from scratch. This is an attempt by Kalyan to create a village prototype that enjoys autonomy with respect to its basic needs through ecologically sustainable ways.
Who are the villagers?
If anyone wants to be a villager in ‘ Proto village ‘, one needs to build their home by collaborating with the other villagers. Are you game for it? There is an interesting story about how Kalyan’s Proto village got its first bunch of villagers.
Before starting Proto Village, Kalyan travelled across India for about 2.5 years between 2008 and 2010. In 2010 he came back to his native district Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and travelled across 166 villages and finally settled in Tekulodu village. There he spent a good amount of time interacting with all the villagers and understood all about the village – from financial conditions to health issues of about 100 families in a span of 100 days.
After this, he chose a family whose annual income is Rs. 6,500 per year and started working with them for the next eight months. During his stay with the family, he worked along with them in their agricultural land and helped them to increase their income to Rs.14,000 per month. One thing Kalyan understood was villagers don’t like preachers but doers.
The success with the family boosted Kalyan’s hope. This prompted Kalyan to start Proto Village. After buying the land, Kalyan invited the villagers to join him in building the village. Ten families from the Tekulodu village volunteered to be part of this new village. All the families will have an equal right to the village as guardians.
Setting up the village
Just by volunteering, no one can become a villager in Proto. Everyone in the village should do ‘shrama daan.’ Since the village is located in the second driest district in India, the first thing Kalyan and the villagers did was to dig ponds around the land so that when it rains the water gets collected which in turn helps to raise the underground water table. Right now the Proto Village draws water from a depth of 140 feet via a bore well. When they started in 2014, the bore well depth was 240 feet.
You will be surprised to know that Proto Village did not buy any cement but produced their own using limestone and kiln rotated by an ox. All the buildings in the village are built by sourcing the locally available materials. Two homes are built using mud, bamboo, rocks and other naturally available materials.
All the energy needs in the Proto Village are sustained through solar power and wind power mill. A friend of Kalyan helped them in installing the wind turbine before training the villagers how to operate and maintain a wind turbine.
Kalyan basically bought a barren piece of land which lacked proper topsoil essential for farming. It took them three years to prepare the land, and now it is ready for agriculture. They have planted several saplings around the village to increase the green cover. Also, they have started growing their own organic food in the village.
Now they are experimenting with a concept called “One Acre”. Through this experiment, they want to come up with a model of organic farming where different types of vegetables are grown which can sustain food needs for the farmer and also generate income. The excess vegetables are sold in the city.
Proto Village houses a Rural Economic Zone(REZ). The village has a unit of soap making and cold pressed oil units. For making soaps, the heat is generated using the biogas plant installed in the village. All the vegetable waste and human waste is utilised to make the biogas. They sell the soaps to the visitors and to others in the nearby cities. Other village women are also trained in soap making. For cold pressed oil they use peanuts from their farm and also they procure from other village farmers.
This name may sound weird to you when you realise that ‘Mayabazar’ is the place where the village kids study. Kalyan doesn’t want to name it as a school, so he chose the name ‘Mayabazar’ where students learn everything on their own using the internet and hands-on experience using a ‘makerspace’ which has all the tools required to execute an idea. Teachers teach only Telugu and Hindi and the rest of the subjects are self-learnt by the students.
Spreading the best practices
Kalyan says, “If anyone wants to understand or replicate our model they are welcome to our village to know more about our best practices. We won’t charge them a penny. We want to be a support system for people who want to replicate our work in their villages.”
Today, the village generates its own electricity, harvests rainwater and WiFi enabled. Members of ProtoVillage grow their own food as much as possible.
Posted by The Logical Indian on Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Want to visit Proto Village? Write to Kalyan at [email protected] or call them at 9741746478