When an unfamiliar long, loud siren was heard around 1.30 pm on Friday, the residents of Maradu municipality were not startled. They knew that it was part of the mock drill prior to the much-discussed demolition of the five high rises in the region, scheduled to be held on Saturday and Sunday.
To make sure that no chances are taken for the smooth running of the demolition procedures of the four Maradu apartment complexes, officials conducted a mock drill of the demolition procedures on Friday.
By around 10 am on Friday, 2,000 police officials were deployed in and around Maradu. A high-level team of officials, including Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas, Kochi police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare, Sub Collector Snehil Kumar Singh, demolition experts Sarwate and other officials of the Maradu municipality, did a final round of inspection of the four apartments before the mock drill started.
Though it was initially said that mock drill would start by 11 am, there was a delay and it only started by noon. 500 police officers were deployed around the 200 metre perimeter of the four apartment complexes. But confusion was evident in the police officials communicating the directions.
Exclusion zones with a radius of 200 metres are marked for each apartment complex and as part of the original plan, no one will be allowed to stay inside. But for the mock drill, this was not made mandatory.
The first warning siren was heard by 1.30 pm. In a space of 10 minutes, a total of five sirens were honked. The third and fourth siren, which is supposed to be just before and after the demolition, was two minutes in duration.
Though there are four apartment complexes, mock drill procedures were held in only two of those - H2O Holy Faith and Alfa Serene - where the actual demolition will be held on Saturday.
Speaking to the media, City Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare said that the small issues that were seen in the mock drill procedures will not be there on Saturday and Sunday. He also added that the siren will be placed in a much higher position on Saturday. It was placed on the municipality premises for the mock drill purpose.
Meanwhile, Ernakulam District Collector has put out an official order stating that Section 144 part of the Criminal Procedure Code will be declared in the 200 metre premises of apartments from 8 am to 5 pm on the concerned days.
The buildings will be razed by controlled implosion.
Fire and rescue vehicles, medical teams and ambulances will be deployed around the region to meet any unprecedented situations. People living around the 200-metre premises will also be evacuated before 8 am on Saturday.
The four apartment complexes were declared to be demolished by the Supreme Court last September after finding that they were violating the Coastal Regulation Zone norms.