Maradu flats' demolition no big deal as compared to my Bhuj mission, says Sarwate

Maradu flats' demolition no big deal as compared to my Bhuj mission, says Sarwate
(Left) Sarad B Sarwate. (Right) H2O Holy Faith, one of the four flat complexes to be demolished.

Having brought 310 buildings to the ground in 23 years, Sarad B Sarwate could easily be called the 'demolition man of India'. Sarwate, who holds an entry in the Limca Book of World Records for demolishing maximum number of buildings, is in Kerala to advise the state government on razing down four illegally-built flat complexes in Maradu municipality of Ernakulam district.

This is the first time the Bhopal-based mining engineer has been roped in by a state government seeking advice. In a chat with Onmanorama, Sarwate explains the challenges of demolishing the Maradu flats and the process of picking up the demolition agencies. He also narrates how he transformed into a demolition expert from a mining engineer.

How did you select the agencies for demolishing the flats in Maradu?

The agencies we have fixed (Edifice Engineering, Mumbai and Vijay Steel, Chennai) are the best options available as far as the present situation is concerned. We had gone through the proposals made by three-four agencies and arrived at the conslusion that these two are the best.

We came to the conclusion after examining their background, the earlier demolitions they had done, their knowledge in the area and their concepts and views about demolition of the buildings in Maradu. We gave preference to Edifice as they have got a very good technical support whereas the second agency has got only one mining engineer. They haven't done much demolitions in the past.

We had to choose atleast two agencies because the government wants transparency. It remains to be seen who does the best. The whole scenario will be clear after one demolition. The picture will be clear for us, the public and the government.

Maradu flats' demolition no big deal as compared to my Bhuj mission, says Sarwate
H2O Holy Faith flats.

So the demolitions will be done one by one?

It can't be done simultaneously. They may do one today and another after two days. After both the companies demolish one building each, we will get a comparison.

If there's any problem, we will try to rectify it. If something goes wrong slightly, it is my role to analyse what went wrong. Then I will give some advice. My role is to suggest them better methodology. If everything goes fine, nobody will have to do anything.

Have the companies been assigned the buildings to be razed?

No. If one party wants a building instead of another, there will be an inter-party discussion between them. Then we will have to go to the administration to get permissinon.

Both the agencies know their strengths and weaknesses. So they can decide who can demolish a particular building in a better way.

Maradu flats' demolition no big deal as compared to my Bhuj mission, says Sarwate
Residents shifting their belongings from the flats. File photo

Is this the most challenging task in your career?

I have carried out more challenging demolitions. I have demolished 65 buildings in Bhuj after the earthquake (in 2001). Those buildings were affected by the earthquake and it was more challenging. Here the buildings have a proper shape.

What is the most suitable methodology for demolition in Maradu?

See, demolition technology has no thumb rule. It varies as per the circumstances. There's no more suitable or less suitable methodology. The basic methodology will be controlled blast and implosion.

What are the specific challenges in Maradu?

The buildings are very tall and are close to water bodies. The environment department has said that debris can't go into water. However, it would be safe to demolish the buildings towards the side along the lake. Some debris will definitely go into water. We will clean it. It's only three-four metre deep, our excavator machines can clean everything. Now the government has to take a call.

How much time will it take to bring down the buildings?

It's not possible to assess the time as of now. After 10-15 days we may get an idea about it. We have to follow the deadline of three months.

What's the proximity from where people will have to be evacuated before the demolition?

Here we have roughly fixed 100 metre. It can be 200 metre. If it's necessary we may evacuate people from a distance of 500 metre also as a precaution.

I have demolished several buildings with more complicated surroundings. There's no legal case against me even after demolishing over 300 buildings that proves that there were no complications.

Will there be any vibration or tremors?

No. It will be controlled implosion and done silently.There won't be any tremor. You have seen diwali crackers, the noise will be only up to that level. This will be more or less similar to that.

How did you become a demolition expert?

In November 1996, the High Court of Indore directed to demolish one G+5 building. It was under construction. Nobody was residing in it but it was in a thickly populated area. There was also a petrol pump 15 feet away from the building. There was a road only 5 feet away.

I was a mining engineer in different areas then and had no experience in demolition. The district collector asked me if I could help them. He told me I could give a try. I asked him whether they would send me to jail if something goes wrong. He said nothing like that would happen. Then I planned a stage-wise demolition and on the fourth stage I brought the building down without causing any damage to anyone. After that my major career has become that of a demolition engineer.