Framed | Kerala

Maradu apartments demolition | Dust to dust: Down like dominoes

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When four high-rise buildings that violated the rules were brought down with surgical precision in Kerala’s Ernakulam district

Until the fourth siren went off, signalling the beginning of the demolition at 11 a.m. on January 11, the owners of apartments in an illegal high-rise building by Vembanad Lake at Maradu in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, kept hoping against hope that their homes would somehow be saved. But when the hour struck, powerful blasts ripped through the building, starting from the ground floor. In the next few seconds, all 16 floors came down like a pack of cards, leaving behind a heap of rubble.

Huge crowds had gathered at a safe distance to watch the implosions, a first in Kerala. The demolition of the building that had come up in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules was hailed as a stern message from the Supreme Court against illegal constructions. The ruling came after a protracted legal battle. Within the next 35 minutes, Alfa Serene, another waterfront luxury block, was razed. On January 12, Jain Coral Cove and Golden Kayaloram were demolished. The emulsion explosives left no scars on nearby structures.

As work on pulverising the concrete slabs in the debris gets under way, there are doubts about who will own the land. Flat owners stake claim to their undivided shares, while environmentalists want eco-restoration. The neighbourhood is covered under a thick blanket of dust. And the Aroor and Ezhupunna panchayats, where the debris was to be dumped until reuse, has issued a stop memo against such storage. A fresh crisis seems to be brewing.

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