Over two days on January 11 and 12, four residential complexes in the Maradu neighbourhood of Kochi in Kerala will be razed through controlled implosion. The four apartments – Jain Coral Cove, Alfa Serene, H2O Holy Faith and Golden Kayaloram – have been ordered to be brought down by the Supreme Court for the violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
As per the schedule finalised by a technical committee monitoring the demolition, the H20 Holy Faith apartment will be torn down first exactly at 11 am on January 11. The twin towers of Alfa Serene will be brought down five minutes later at 11:05 am. On January 12, the Jain Coral Cove complex, the biggest of the four, will be demolished at 11 am, followed by Golden Kayaloram, the smallest, at 2 pm.
Since two of the four residential complexes are located in highly-dense neighbourhoods with lots of small houses around its boundary walls, it is pertinent to ensure the apartments are brought down in such a way that they fall vertically onto themselves, without leaning to the sides. The implosion (process of collapsing inwards) method is generally used in razing tall structures because it is swift, safe and controlled.
Over the past two months, workers of the two demolition firms – Edifice Engineering and Vijay Steels – have been engaged in tearing down all ancillary structures, reducing the apartments to a bare concrete skeletal frame. Doors, windows and balcony railings were pulled out. Non-load-bearing walls were taken out to ensure a swift and clean fall. Steel and concrete joints of staircases were disconnected. The compounds were sealed off from the public and police officers deployed for security. Tall iron sheets were raised around the apartments to prevent splinters of concrete blocks.
This past week, after the conclusion of pre-blasting works, high-grade emulsion explosives were brought to the four residential complexes in highly-guarded vans and filled into holes drilled into pillar columns on certain floors. The detonators equipped with an element of delay are inserted into explosives, which are in the form of a jelly. The explosives are covered with a wire mesh so as to prevent splinters. On the day of the demolition, the explosives are set off, all at the same time in a sequence with the help of a remote. The entire duration of the implosion will be 15-20 seconds.
According to SB Sarwate, an Indore-based demolition expert and a consultant of the Kerala government for the Maradu demolition, for a 15-storey building, blasts can be conducted on 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 11th and 12th floors. The blasting of these floors will happen at the same time, in a sequence to ensure the building comes down exactly at the spot where it stands. There is no question of tilting, he said. The debris that accumulates as a result of the demolition is likely to rise up to 2-3 storeys in the case of the biggest apartment, Jain Coral Cove.
The local police have decided to wrap the area around the four demolition sites with a thick security blanket. Around 500 police officers would be deployed at each demolition site. On January 11 and 12, prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC will be issued in a 200-metre radius of the demolition sites. It will be lifted only after the Fire and Rescue Services department gives the all-clear sign. Door-to-door search parties will ensure residents within a 200-metre radius are shifted to rehabilitation camps. Traffic on the NH66 will be holed up for a few minutes before and during the implosion. At the same time, taking into account the curiosity the event has generated, the police will ensure vantage points for those wanting to witness the demolition. A mock drill of the demolition will be held on January 10 to test the preparedness of the demolition firms, police and the district administration.
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