A bunch of residents, living close to one of the four apartment complexes ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court for violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, are gearing up for agitation after cracks appeared in at least four neighbouring houses as a result of the demolition process. While the apartments are scheduled for controlled implosion in January, workers of the demolition agencies have been manually tearing apart the buildings and its ancillary structures.
Residents said their houses literally shook and later developed cracks on walls and staircases after a part of the two-storey structure adjoining the swimming pool at the Alfa Serene apartments next door caved in during the demolition process. The Alfa Serene apartments, along with Jain Coral Cove, Golden Kayaloram and Holy Faith H2O are the four residential high-rises in Maradu municipality that have been ordered to be razed to the ground by the Supreme Court in May this year.
“It was such a loud thud. I was working in the kitchen and I felt the house shake. But I thought it was just me. Then my daughter who was studying inside ran up to me saying she fell out of the bed. We were so scared,” said Yamuna Jacob, whose single-storey home stands adjoining the boundary wall of the Alfa Serene apartments.
A day later, Jacob and her children discovered long cracks on the back-wall of the house, one on the inside walls and tiles having come loose in the bathroom.
“If the demolition of a two-storey structure can lead to such cracks, imagine what will happen when the 16-storey building comes down. We are very, very scared. At night, we cannot sleep,” said Jacob, whose husband works in Dubai as an electrician. The homemaker said her husband had put his entire earnings into building the house and cannot even think of building another home again.
On Wednesday, local MLA M Swaraj and Maradu municipality chairperson TH Nadeera visited the four houses in which fissures have been discovered and attended a meeting of the aggrieved residents in the area. The residents alleged that the demolition agency Vijay Steels and Explosives was using ‘primitive’ and ‘unscientific’ methods to raze the structures and cared little about the safety of neighbouring houses. They also voiced concerns about the effects of massive dust pollution in the area.
“Everyone keeps saying controlled implosion is safe but we don’t understand it. I’m a daily-wage labourer and I don’t understand the technicalities. When a building like this comes down, it is bound to leave vibrations on the ground. Nobody can estimate it. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my home,” said one of the residents at the meeting.
Another resident added, “This is a marshy area and earlier paddy used to be cultivated here. The soil is very loose. When 27000 tonnes (of the building) come down at once, it will surely cause irreparable damage to the landmass.”
MLA Swaraj, who belongs to the CPI(M), said he would apprise the concerns of the residents to the government directly and request for apartments like Jain Coral Cove, which is located in a less-densely populated area, to be demolished first so that the consequences of the implosion may be studied. As of the government schedule, Alfa Serene and Holy Faith H2O will be brought down on January 11, followed by Alfa Serene and Golden Kayaloram on January 12.
He also said the process of giving insurance cover preferably by a public-sector firm to the residents in the immediate vicinity of the high-rises would be finalised soon. Also, if the residents staying along the boundary walls of the complex wish to relocate to rented premises at the time of the demolition, the government would be ready to bear the expenses, he added.
TH Nadeera, the municipality chairperson, accused the demolition firm of adopting unscientific methods of demolition that led to cracks in neighbouring homes.
“We are not against the Supreme Court orders. But while demolition, they must clearly study the composition of the land. We have intimated all these things to the government. But we cannot see the technical expertise in their (demolition agency) work. They are adopting unscientific means. It’s clearly causing problems for the local people,” she said.