Kochi: For the first time in India, two high-rise apartments were reduced to a rubble using hi-tech implosion technology in Kochi on Saturday.
At 11.19 am, 19-storey H2O Holy Faith were demolished and became part of history with just a heap of dust; it took just five seconds to implode the structure that took over 5 years to build. The demolition followed a Supreme Court order that held four multi-storey apartments as illegal as they flouted Coastal Regulation Zone rules. The posh flats were built adjoining the backwaters in Maradu near Kochi.
As the 90 flats of Holy Faith went down, there was a huge roar from people who had assembled in large numbers around the flats even as a cloud of dust enveloped a vast area. Entire Kerala was glued to television sets for the 'festival of destruction'. The demolition was followed by an 'explosion' of social media with netizens posting videos of the operations.
Nearly 212 kg of high-impact explosives were used to bring Holy Faith down even as the debris fell just metres short of the backwaters around the flats.
At 10.30 am, the first siren was sounded bringing road, water and air traffic around the area to a halt. At 11.05 am, the second siren was sounded which indicated that all arrangements were completed. The third siren was sounded at 11.17 am indicating that all the officials had moved out and the building was ready to be demolished.
There was a delay of 19 minutes as a naval helicopter conducted a last-minute survey of the area.
Minutes after the demolition, the fire force personnel rushed in to spray water to control the dust which went beyond the 200-metres prescribed zone.
Minutes later, two massive flat complexes of Alpha Serene came down in a controlled and coordinated implosion. First the baby tower came down and seconds later the main complex too was demolished.
On Sunday, two more flat complexes – Golden Kayaloram and Jain Coral Cove – would be demolished. With that, nearly 345 flats would be reduced to just a pile of dust.
Residents staying around the complexes that came down were in high praise at the manner in which the operations were carried out without causing any damage to their dwelling units. The demolition was carried out by Mumbai-based Edifice Engineers and Chennai-based Vijay Steels. Priests conducted a pooja early in the morning for a 'successful demolition'.
Speaking to the media later, spokespersons of the companies said the demolitions were perfect and as planned.
The police had a tough time chasing away people from sensitive areas, but the anxious onlookers who came from different parts of the state, however, was allowed to watch the implosion from a distance.
Once the entire demolitions are over, a local contractor would clear the debris within the mandated 70 days. It is estimated that there would be over 400 tons of debris to be cleared.
On Friday, the police and local authorities went house to house around the controversial flats to ensure that all residents have evacuated their homes after switching off the electricity and gas supply.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on land, water and in the air was imposed in the evacuation zone. There was strict security arrangements in place and the waterways was be manned by boats of coastal police, land by 500 policemen plus 300 striker parties, for crowd control and traffic control.
A total of 345 flats would vanish into 'thin air' following the Supreme Court order last year that the four apartment buildings be demolished for violation of coastal regulation zone rules. On October 25, the Supreme Court had asked the Kerala government to give Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to the flat owners. The Kerala government had informed that it has so far disbursed Rs 10 crore compensation.