The Kerala state government has roped in SB Sarwate, a demolition expert who reportedly holds the Guinness world record for imploding the maximum number of buildings in India, to help guide the demolition of the Maradu apartments.
The government has shortlisted two agencies for the demolition: Edifice Engineering, a Mumbai-based company and Vijay Steels and Explosives, a Tamil Nadu based firm.
The Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of the apartment buildings – Jains Coral Cove, H2O Holy Faith, Golden Kayaloram and the twin towers of Alfa Serene – as they violated Coastal Regulation Zone norms and are located dangerously close to the Vembanad Lake.
“Though this is a challenge, the buildings will be demolished swiftly and there will not be any damage to the nearby structures or houses,” says Sarwate, who specialises in controlled blasting, implosion of buildings using explosives and dimensional stone mining.
Though safety concerns have been raised by residents in the area, Sarwate explained that during the demolition, the buildings will collapse inwards (implosion) and not outwards (explosion).
“From my experience, there will not be a problem as some fear. Most of my work has been in highly-populated areas. For instance, an 11-storey building was pulled down in Indore sometime back. There was a hospital 30-40 metres away. We did not even shift inmates of the hospital during the demolition. The thing is, the debris will not fall more than 20 metre away from the building,” Sarwate says.
Sarwate will visit all the apartment buildings to be razed in Maradu on Friday. He also told TNM that if required, he will also guide the agencies in the demolition.
‘No alternative for using explosives’
Though the tender invite published by the Maradu municipality had initially stressed that the buildings would be demolished without using blasting devices, it was later changed.
Sarwate and the agencies shortlisted for the demolition told TNM that there are no alternatives for explosives to raze down the buildings in such a short period of time. “It will at least take one and a half months to prepare the buildings. To finish the construction and to clear off the debris, it will altogether take at least three months. So in this short period, there is no alternative to explosives,” says Uttkarsh Mehta, official of Edifice Engineering, one of the shortlisted agencies for the demolition.
Referring to the type of explosives that will be used, Sarwate noted, “I am not aware of the type of explosives readily available in Kerala, mostly we use nitrate mixture.”
Edifice Engineering had earlier conducted a similar controlled implosion to demolish three buildings. “The difference is that those were industrial plant buildings and these are residential ones. One of them was even 65 metres tall and the buildings in Maradu are about 50 metres tall,” says Uttkarsh.