Maradu flats: Demolition debris may trigger serious health issues, say experts

Alfa Serene and Jain Housing (right) apartments, two of the Maradu flats that the apex court has ordered to demolish.  

In the context of the possible demolition of the four flats in Maradu, experts at the School of Environmental Studies at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) and health professionals have said that the Supreme Court should be able to arrive at a solution that could set an example as well as be compassionate to those living in these flats, considering the environmental and health impacts that the demolition is likely to cause.

Dr. Sivanandan Achari, head of the School of Environmental Studies, told The Hindu that that concern for environment started with compassion for every living creature on the Earth. Attempts to conserve environment through destructive measures that could give rise to more issues of environmental damage was tricky, said Dr. Achari.

The debris to be removed from the site, finding a place for dumping it, the cost involved, and the health issues that the suspended particulate matter could cause are some of the key issues arising out of the likely demolition of the flats, said Dr. Achari.

Dr. Sunny Orathel, chest specialist and senior physician, said that if modern technology was used to bring down a building, the consequent health issues could be minimised. However, the impact on the affected people's mind could be much greater, he said. The stress levels of the people affected could trigger several health conditions like stroke or shooting up of blood pressure levels. Dr. Bindu C.G., secretary of the Cochin Thoracic Society, said that the area of impact could be within 1 km radius. The dust particles of 2.5 micron size which constituted suspended particulate matter (SPM) were dangerous for human health. Increase in the levels of SPM was expected to remain in the atmosphere for some time. The permissible level of SPM is 60 micro grams per cubic metre of air.

George Mathew, Principal of the School of Engineering, Cusat, said that the demolition would bring in a number of environmental and safety issues to the surroundings, including the waterbody and the people in spite of any modern technology being used. All the procedures in this regard needed to be assessed minutely, he said. Nothing could be done to the structure below the ground as the superstructure was the issue of contention.

The State Pollution Control Board, faced with a one-of-its-kind problem, has not been very proactive about the issue. However, it has issued a notice to the Maradu municipality on the steps to be taken if the concrete structures are demolished.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:55:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/debris-may-trigger-serious-health-issues-say-experts/article29444197.ece

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