High-rise luxury apartment Holy Faith H2O is brought to the ground by controlled implosion in Kochi on Saturday. AP
Experts razed three illegal towers in Maradu near here on Saturday through controlled implosions as ordered by the Supreme Court of India last year.
Authorities said it went smoothly and, with the pulling down of two more towers, the process will be over on Sunday.
It will take at least two months to remove the debris.
The apex court on May 8 ordered the demolition of these lakeside towers housing 343 luxury apartments four real estate developers built over the years since 1996 in this port city.
Reduced into debris on Saturday were twin towers of Alpha Serene and another structure by H2O Holy Faith. The remaining are Golden Kayaloram and Jane Coral Cove.
"It’s a wonderfully executed job. H20’s demolition was perfectly done. No debris went into the water, and they all fell well within its compound,” said district collector S Suhas.
"But a small portion of Alpha Tower 2 had fallen into the water, and that’s purposefully done. We had to tilt the structure slightly to safeguard homes on the other side.”
H2O needed 212.4 kg and Alpha 343 kg of explosives to be reduced into 42,850 tonnes of debris.
City police commissioner Vijay Sakhare also expressed satisfaction over the "smooth operations” without any damages.
"As for debris that had fallen into the water, as planned, they would be removed. As far as initial assessment is concerned, there was no harm to human life,” he said.
"There was some damage to the water body. But that’s negligible. Same is the case with the adjoining houses as well.”
They brought down H2O at 11.18 am, followed by the twin towers. H2O had 91 houses on 19 floors, while Alfa Serene had 67 homes on 17 floors.
Thousands of people gathered at a distance, strictly following police instructions, to watch these structures that stood violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules crumbling.
The authorities evicted people in the neighbourhood in the morning. They switched off electricity and all appliances before leaving and returned in the afternoon.
Police had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code which prohibits the assembly of four or more people from 8 am to 4 pm on land, water and in the air.
They warned of strong criminal action against anyone trying to fly drones in the evacuation zone as the buildings were "charged” with explosives.
The court had in September attached the assets of the builders and officials and directed the state to compensate for the losses of homeowners, to be recovered from them.
However, many say they are yet to receive even the interim compensation of Rs 2.5 million while the government disbursed only Rs 100 million so far.
Police have also arrested the builders and former secretary of the Maradu village council Mohammed Ashraf and its engineer PE Joseph who certified them.
The Maradu village council permitted the buildings while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM was ruling it.
It has since become a municipal zone as the city spread on its outskirts and is now under the rule of the Congress party-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
The state had assured the court to start the process of the demolition on October 9 and complete it within 90 days.
The buyers say the builders grossly undervalued the properties while registering to bring down the stamp duty and registration charges, which affects their claims.
They registered these properties for as low as Rs 99,500 to Rs 300,000, according to Nadeera Mahboob, the municipal chair.
She says only around 130 have obtained ownership certificates from the local government. Some have no title deeds at all.
"The builders were cheating us,” Shamsudheen Karunagappally, president of the Maradu Home Protection Council, told The Gulf Today.
"They misled us saying that’s the fair value fixed by the government while registering. Our curative petition is before the court, and we expect a favourable decision.”
His family did not go to the site as it was too painful for them to watch their dream getting shattered.
PP Joseph, a senior bank executive who owns a 2140-sq ft apartment in Alfa Serene, said his neighbour sold his home for Rs 12.5 million just four days before the court order.
"I lost the savings of a lifetime,” he said.
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