Demolition of the Alpha Serene towers was conducted by Vijay Steels, a Chennai-based company, and the sound and tremors that accompanied the collapse of the twin towers were clearly felt.

Alpha Serene demolition sent debris flying into our homes Maradu locality residents
news Maradu Flat Demolition Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 09:49

By 11:45 am on Saturday, two high-rise apartments that stood tall over the Vembanad lake in Kochi’s Maradu municipality had vanished from the city’s skyline. The first building to collapse was H2O Holy Faith, a 19 storey structure with 91 apartments, found to have been built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms. At 11:17 am, H2O imploded and came down like a house of cards even as scores of people watched on from surrounding high rise buildings and the half-constructed Kundanoor flyover on the opposite side. Twenty minutes later, the twin towers of Alpha Serene, also found to be built in violation of the CRZ norms, came crashing down one by one — but this time, not as seamlessly as H2O. 

Several residents around the Alpha Serene have raised complaints that the demolition of the twin towers was shoddily executed. 

“We are thankful that there has been no damage to our houses. However, the debris from the pillars of Alpha Serene came flying into our houses, cracking our window panes. The impact — both sound and vibrations — from the Alpha Serene’s collapse was so high that it even flattened the roofing sheets on top of our houses,” says Harichandra Sai, who lives right next to the demolished towers. 

TNM reported the demolition from a high rise tower located 850 metres away from the buildings. Although no significant vibrations were felt during the implosion of H2O, the sound and tremors that accompanied the collapse of the Alpha Serene towers were clearly felt. 

Both the complexes (three towers in total) were demolished through controlled implosion — a technique which ensures that the building collapses inwards with minimal impact to the neighbourhood. If done properly, the controlled implosion will not even leave debris outside of 20 metres of the demolition site, experts had told TNM

However, with the demolition of Alpha Serene, whose controlled implosion was executed by Chennai-based Vijay Steels, debris was found in the neighbouring compounds and houses. Blown up chunks of the apartment were even found to have fallen into the backwaters next to the site. 

“This was hardly an implosion and more of an explosion. While barely any tremors were felt during the demolition of H2O, with Alpha, the vibrations were felt to a scary level. And if you see our houses, the windows and roofs have been ruined due to the impact. This is an addition to the cracks that our houses had from the pre-demolition process, when Vijay steels blew up the swimming pool inside the towers,” Harichandra Sai added. 

H2O’s demolition was carried out by Mumbai-based Edifice Engineering, whose parent company is Johannesburg-based Jet Demolition. Edifice will also execute the demolition of 2 other buildings — Jain Coral  Cove and Golden Kayaloram — both of which were also among the four apartment complexes that violated CRZ norms, according to the Supreme Court’s order. 

Speaking to TNM, MD of Jet Demolition Joe Brinkmann said that H2O’s implosion was as smooth as they planned it to be.

“If you look at the surrounding buildings you will see no fresh cracks on them. There is an old building right next to H2O. However, even that has remained completely safe throughout the process,” he said. Explaining the 17-minute delay in the demolition of H2O, which was supposed to collapse at 11 am, he added that it was due to the unexpected surveillance by naval helicopters in the area. 

Post the implosion of all 3 towers, fire and rescue forces were found to be sweeping the dust from the Kundanoor bridge, located right next to H2O. Water tankers were also stationed close to the buildings with the fire force dousing the giant clouds of dust and smoke from the demolition. 

Alpha Serene’s neighbours to be compensated with 3 months’ rent

Prior to the demolition, the 300-odd residents living around the Alpha Serene towers were moved to two camps in the city. Some of them also moved out to rented houses and only plan to return once the dust and debris from the demolition are cleared up. 

The Municipality has asked the contractor companies - Edifice and Vijay Steels - to cover the rent of these residents for a period of 3 months from the date of demolition. 

Pollution Control Board to monitor air quality post demolition 

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board will study the air and water quality of the area as well as determine the quantity of dust emanated from the demolition. Results of the study on water quality in the backwaters will be released within the next week. The body had also studied the air and water quality in the area prior to the demolition. 

The maximum sound levels recorded during the demolition were 114 decibels, MA Baiju Chief Environmental Engineering of Ernakulam KSPCB told TNM. “Clear instructions will be issued to the Maradu municipality on transfer the debris as per relevant sections of the Construction and Demolition rules of 2016,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the debris will be temporarily stocked at Chandiroor in Alappuzha, where contracting company Prompt Enterprises has identified 8 acres of land. 

The KPSCB will also continue inspection and monitoring of pre-demolition air and water quality levels near Jain Coral Cove and Golden Kayaloram on Sunday. 

Read: Why residents around Maradu apartments are apprehensive about demolition

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