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Razing Supertech twin towers: Delays, challenges

🔴 After several rounds of consultation between the Noida Authority, Supertech builders, and specialist agencies, plans are being drawn up and an agency is to be selected.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | Noida |
Updated: December 27, 2021 11:01:05 am
Supertech emerald building in sector 93-A

Almost a month after the deadline to demolish two towers of a Supertech housing project in Noida, set by the Supreme Court, expired, the buildings are still standing.

On August 30, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah upheld a 2014 Allahabad High Court judgment which ordered the demolition of the two towers at Emerald Court, located in Noida Sector 93A. The SC ruled that the demolition had to be completed within three months.

After several rounds of consultation between the Noida Authority, Supertech builders, and specialist agencies, plans are being drawn up and an agency is to be selected.

Supertech Emerald Building in Sector 93-A, Noida. (Express photo)

As per court orders, demolition has to be carried out by Supertech under supervision of government authorities in Noida and in consultation with the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee. So far, the company that is supposed to execute the demolition is yet to be selected and it will likely take another six months to bring down the towers. The position, location and structure of the towers will also be a challenge for the executing agencies.

The demolition

Supertech Ltd had nominated the names of two companies, Edifice Engineering and Genesis Engineering, to provide demolition services and solutions. One of the two will be selected by the Noida Authority in consultation with the RWA and CBRI. Two weeks ago, Edifice Engineering gave its presentation on their proposed demolition.

In such cases, the companies prefer the ‘implosion’ method. As per experts, the explosive charges are placed at strategic points in pillars, beams and the detonation causes the structure to collapse into the compound itself. It is also referred to as the ‘waterfall’ method since it resembles dropping water from a height in which the splash represents the spread of debris.

The Mumbai-based company was the executing agency in bringing down three of the four towers under the illegal Maradu Apartments in Kochi in January 2020. The controlled demolition of the four towers, which violated Coastal Zone Regulations (CRZ), was hailed as near “perfect”, according to company partner Utkarsh Mehta, with no damage to structures in the vicinity. The entire structure was brought down in six seconds using the ‘implosion’ method.

Edifice Engineering will be roping in Jet Demolition, a South Africa-based company that provides professional demolition services to industries and multinational clients.

“If our company is selected, the blast plan will be prepared by Jet. They have an entire team which will be assessing the area, the impact, and the structure. It is a very technical process since every detail, from the fall to the post-explosion debris, is taken into account. The plan will be further executed by our company on the ground,” said Mehta.

Supertech housing project Noida, D Y Chandrachud, Noida, Noida news, Central Building Research Institute CBRI, Delhi news, Delhi city news, New Delhi, India news, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India News On August 30, the Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of the two towers at Emerald Court, located in Noida Sector 93A. Gajendra Yadav

The South African demolition specialist, based in Randburg, was named ‘Best of the Best’ at the World Demolition Awards (WDA). It also won in the Explosive Demolition category. Both awards were for the successful implosion of the 108-metre-high, 22-storey Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg in November 2019.

The Bank of Lisbon building was demolished following the death of three firemen in September 2019. The Gauteng provincial government made the decision to implode the building following a structural assessment which deemed it unsafe. The Lisbon implosion was one of the biggest in the world which used nearly 900 kg of explosives to bring down the tower.

The building was surrounded by structures, and no building nearby sustained any damage as the bank went down, Mehta said. Jet Demolition demolished the structure in less than 30 seconds.

In the Supertech case, challenges the officials will face is the slant of the building and the chosen direction of the collapse. “In every demolition, our effort is to ensure there is no damage to areas around it. In the Supertech case, there is a driveway leading up to the building, which is weak. For this, we are taking the south-east direction, which has ample space and a slight slant will be given,” said Mehta.

As per officials, there will be a pre-blast and post-blast assessment. Prior to the blast, aspects including evacuation radius, area in which debris will collect and weak points of the building are considered. Following the blast, the engineering company will take a survey from locals living in the area to assess if any damage was done to their houses or flats. The exercise prevents any claims of damage that could be made following the demolition.

Genesis Engineering, the second company in the fray, will present its demolition plan in the coming weeks. They too will be using the implosion method and taking technical assistance from companies based abroad.

“We are well equipped to carry out the demolition. We have partner agencies based in US and UK, which we will include in the technical assessment. The other decisions will be taken once the presentation process is done,” said Piyush Gandhi, MD, Genesis Engineering.

The company carried out demolitions of the Atrium 2 project in Mumbai and Langham Palace in Pune. The expertise of the organisation lies in “industrial, plant and factory demolition services along with high reach demolition excavator services”.

The task for the executing agencies will be to prevent damage to the closest Aster Tower in the Emerald Court compound. A gas supply pipeline running in the premises will have to be shut for the duration of the implosion. Nearly 600 families reside in the housing compound. From wire meshes to sandbags, several other tools will be used to prevent the debris from spilling over to far off, risking damage to other buildings.

Both Ceyane and Apex are nearly 100 metres tall. Following the third revised plan, it was allowed for Supertech to raise the height to 121 metres and the number of floors from 24 to 40.  The available ground clearance for the Supertech demolition is 9 metres, officials said.

For the RWA, which was the main petitioner in the case, it has been a long battle that needs to find its conclusion. “It has been a back and forth between the Noida Authority and Supertech. All organisations have been putting the onus on each other… This will send a strong message to the officials that builders will not be given a free hand. It is likely that the demolition will take a lot of time. So our fight continues,” said RWA president UBS Teotia.

The RWA had alleged various violations and misrepresentations by the developer in building the two towers. It also sought setting aside permission granted to link the two towers through a space frame, in court. Supertech had argued that the two towers were sanctioned in accordance with Noida Building Regulations, 2006. The authorities in Noida told the court that permission for connecting the towers was granted only after the design was approved by IIT-Roorkee.

Ordering demolition, the Allahabad High Court in 2014 had raised issues with the way the buildings were constructed and rights of other residents in terms of “ventilation, light and air and adherence to fire safety norms”.

The Supreme Court had further ordered Supertech Limited, the developer, to refund all existing flat purchasers the amount invested along with an interest of 12% per annum within a period of two months.

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