Kochi/New Delhi: As the demolition of two illegal waterfront apartments in Maradu began on Saturday, several residents gathered to witness the one-of-its-kind mega demolition in Kerala that turned two flats into dust within seconds.
Officials said that two high rises — H2O Holyfaith and Alfa Serene — were demolished by 11:30am, complying with the orders of the Apex Court which held the structures to be illegal as they had been built in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms. The remaining two luxury flats will be razed on Sunday.
The 19-floor apartment complex H2O Holyfaith came crashing within a few seconds after the third siren was sounded. The area was shrouded by dust and within 10 minutes, the dust also settled, without leaving a trace of the 90 flats.
An official said that around 212.4 kg of explosives were used to bring down the apartment complex.
The prohibitory order declared by the Ernakulam District Collector using his authority as District Magistrate came into force at 8am in the evacuation zone of the two residential complexes, prompting families in the area to move out of their houses.
Police carried out house-to-house search to ensure 100 per cent evacuation of people residing in the zone.
Residents in the evacuation zone were directed to switch off electricity and all appliances, shut windows and doors before leaving their homes. They were directed to return home once police removed barricades from the roads leading to evacuation zone.
Thousands of people watched the demolition from outside the zone. The two national highway roads were blocked when the controlled implosion took place.
After about 15 minutes, the twin towers of Alfa Serene — first, the baby tower and then the main tower — were also demolished. There are about 73 flats in the apartment complex.
Videos shot during demolition showed some debris falling into the water body. There were about 40 houses located near Alfa Serene. This time there was more dust than the H2O Holyfaith pulling down had caused.
The other two flats Golden Kayaloram and Jain Coral Cove will be demolished on Sunday.
A total of 343 waterfront flats were built in the complexes, violating the Coastal Regulation Zone norms. The Supreme Court had in September 2019 directed demolition of the apartment complexes within 138 days, a time line given by the Kerala government.
On May 8 last year, the apex court had directed that these buildings be removed within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.
The court had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.
Though the residents staged protests for several days refusing to vacate, later they relented. The court has ordered an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh each to the owners of the flats.
(With inputs from Neethu Reghukumar in Kerala)