Kochi

Maradu blasts bring dark tourism to the fore

People gather on the Kundannur bridge to view the implosion of apartment complexes at Maradu on Saturday.

People gather on the Kundannur bridge to view the implosion of apartment complexes at Maradu on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

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Thousands pour in to witness implosion of apartments

Dark tourism was at its best at Maradu, where three apartment blocks were brought down through implosion on Saturday, with two others to follow suit on Sunday.

Thousands of people, many from other districts, poured in to witness the implosion of the highrises. While most of them occupied vantage points on the 1-km-long Kundannur bridge, others gatecrashed into apartments and waterfront properties of relatives and acquaintances.

There were others who chartered boats to witness the implosions from a safe distance from the backwaters. The waterbody had turned busy during the past month, with visitors wanting to take a close look at the apartments, preferring to take a boat cruise.

The curiosity was so much so that a few luxury hotels in the vicinity of the apartment blocks were flooded with calls during the past month, offering irresistible amounts to book rooms, to witness the implosions live. A board kept at a hotel in the vicinity by a stakeholder of the implosion process welcomed ‘delegates’ to the ‘implosion viewing gallery’ on one of its floors.

With an image of it going viral, the hotel management clarified that it had little to do with such boards placed by those hosting private events. It further told the stakeholder to remove it. The hotel also clarified that it empathised with the families for whom the day was a sad day.

Another hotel, Le Meriden, whose annexe abutted an apartment which was brought down on Saturday, evacuated all guests and employees from the annexe and also the main hotel building. The hotel was among those that were flooded with enquiries from people who wanted to reserve rooms at vantage points to view implosions of Saturday and Sunday.

“We went the extra mile and deployed a structural engineering firm a fortnight ago to do a pre- and post-implosion assessment of our buildings, especially the annexe near the pulled down structure,” said Tejus Jose, general manager of the hotel. All guests and employees were provided masks, and temporary structures were put up near the NH Bypass to shelter them during the implosion time, from 10.30 am. Our aim was to cause least discomfort to guests.

The exposed parts of the hotel were covered, and power and LPG connections switched off. The swimming pool was covered with tarpaulin. Underground water tanks were filled to the brim to assess whether there was a fall in water level due to any possible crack. The hotel’s exteriors and lawns were cleaned using water hydrants, Mr. Jose said.

A city-based tour guide P.R. Rajesh said many foreign tourists who arrived in a cruise ship enquired about the implosion of the buildings. “We apprised them of the sensitiveness of the issue and ecological issues, which they understood. This was in stark contrast to people making a beeline to witness the implosions, with the same ease as for witnessing Thrissur Pooram,” he added.“We should not promote dark tourism in Kerala and must not allow it to become yet another tourism product. It is unethical to derive pleasure from the loss of other people. Rather, focus must be laid on the emphasis that the apex court laid on respecting the law and environment,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:50:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/maradu-blasts-bring-dark-tourism-to-the-fore/article30546940.ece

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