Why residents around Maradu apartments are apprehensive about demolition

About 20 families around Alfa Serene apartments have moved out of their homes as fear looms over the repercussions of the upcoming demolition on nearby buildings.
Why residents around Maradu apartments are apprehensive about demolition
Why residents around Maradu apartments are apprehensive about demolition
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"Do you have any idea what the extent of damage to our houses will be because of the demolition?” 58-year-old Sreedevi asks this reporter, “Will it be fully destroyed?”

Sreedevi is a resident living in a building close to the soon-to-be demolished Alfa Serene apartment complex in Maradu, and her tone of despair and apprehension is echoed by other neighbours as well. Five buildings of the four apartment complexes at Maradu in Ernakulam district will soon turn to dust, in just about four days. Yet, nearly a hundred families living around the close proximity of these buildings are still unaware about the extent of damage they can expect in their homes. The residents cite lack of official communication as the reason for this ignorance which has led to a major apprehension among the people.

Holy Faith H2O, Golden Kayaloram, the twin towers of Alfa Serene and Jain Coral Cove are the four apartment complexes which will be demolished on January 11 and 12. Of the four, the 16 floored twin towers of Alfa Serene’s demolition is the most worrisome, as it is located in a thickly populated area with hundreds of residential buildings and houses around.

"We have never been told to what extent our houses will be damaged. Already cracks have appeared in many of our houses. It seems like the officials themselves have no idea what the extent of damage would be," says Sreedevi.

Sreedevi, who lives alone in her house which is just a few metres away from one of the towers of Alfa Serene apartment, is all set to move out of her house to a rented one. Already, about twenty families living in a 50 metre radius of Alfa Serene, have moved out of their homes with their belongings, unsure of whether they can come back and see their homes intact after the demolition.

Sreedevi in her shop located just 100 metres away from Alfa Serene apartment

The apartment buildings will be demolished through controlled implosion, where during the blast of explosives, the building will collapse inwards and not outwards like in explosion.

A few weeks back, officials had informed the residents that those living in the 50 metre radius of the apartments can move to other rented houses if necessary and that such families will be provided rent money for three months.

“But this was not told to us as something that should be done as a strict precautionary measure. They said if we want, we can move out. And now, people have moved out either because cracks have appeared in the houses or because of apprehension about what could happen during demolition,” says Yamuna Jacob, who lives just beside Alfa Serene. When the pre-demolition works of the buildings started in October, Yammuna’s 11-year-old house was one of the first to get damaged.

Alfa Serene tower beind Yamuna's house

“When the swimming pool of the apartment complex was demolished in November, what we experienced was similar to a tremor. I was standing in the kitchen and the floor was shaking when it happened. Even my daughter who was in the other room had a similar experience. That was a small swimming pool’s demolition, now when the 16 floor twin towers will be razed down, we don’t exactly know what to expect,” Yamuna says.

In order to address the apprehensions of the residents, officials have started a door-to-door campaign explaining the precautions that need to be taken. Meanwhile, the residents complain that even in the awareness campaign they are not explaining about the extent of damage, rather they are distributing notices explaining timing of demolition and other evacuation plans.

‘Officials are playing it cool’

A section of residents have raised allegations that despite knowing the exact consequences and extent of the damage, officials are hiding the fact from them and trying to play it cool.

“I have personally heard a demolition expert, who came to inspect our houses, telling Sub-Collector Snehil Kumar Singh that my house will be fully damaged. When we raised this question later, they did not give a proper answer,” says Harichandra Sai, another resident living near Alfa Serene apartment. A big crack has already developed in the staircase of his house.

When TNM spoke to officials of Maradu municipality, they, too, expressed their lack of understanding of the extent of damage that can happen to the houses during the demolition.

“We are not sure what will happen, we can only say that after the demolition. Even the technical committee which is in charge of the demolition have not said anything officially about the possible damage that can happen,” municipality chairperson TH Nadeera told TNM.

Alfa Serene and Holy Faith H2O will be demolished in a gap of five minutes on January 11, while Jain Coral Cove and Golden Kayaloram will be razed down on January 12.



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