The rubber hoses used by the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) to put out blazes and save lives are now becoming a lifeline for a group of women. Primarily survivors of sexual assault, these women are converting the non-biodegradable tubes, once they are decommissioned by authorities, into handbags and clutches, using the material as a substitute for leather. The first-of-its-kind initiative has been undertaken by a group of students from Netaji Subhas University of Technology (NSUT) with the help of the Delhi Fire Service.
Named ‘Agni’, the project involves some NGOs that help survivors of sexual assault connect with the students’ group, which in turn with the assistance of the DFS trains them in creating these products with the fire hoses. The project is funded and supported by Enactus, a non-profit organisation.
Vrinda Goel, one of the 12 B Tech students who are working on the project, said these hoses are not just durable but give a leather-like texture. “We get our authentic fire hoses from Delhi Fire Service. Our handbags and pouches are made by an underprivileged community of women at the Rotary Club of the Raisina Hills, in New Delhi," said Goel, a second-year student.
Goel said the prices of these products have been kept affordable, between Rs 200 and 400, as they’re aiming for high sales to help these women earn significant profits.
“Once these handbags and pouches are made, team Agni sells them through our website, www.agni.enactusnsut.com, on social media platforms, and by promoting them through messaging applications," she said.
Atul Garg, director of DFS, who has supported the student-led project, said the idea of converting these decommissioned fire hoses into handbags and making them reusable is a unique one. “Never have we ever put our fire hoses to such use. They are highly non-biodegradable and durable, which is why they are being used as a substitute for leather," he said. “We at DFS are glad to have been able to make any contribution to support these women through our pilot project."