Kochi: Sharad B Sarwate, who will oversee the demolition of four apartment complexes in Maradu municipality in Kerala's Ernakulam district, said on Wednesday that the demolition process has not caused any damage to other houses in the neighbourhood.
Dismissing people's allegations that cracks have been developed on the walls of their houses due to unscientific demolition process, Sarwate said the cracks spotted now could be rectified by spending just Rs 2,000.
"The cracks found on some houses near the flats were not developed due to the demolition works. Such cracks on the plastered layer are common," he said after visiting three houses the lie close to Alfa Serene twin towers said.
Sarwate's comments have angered the house owners and people's representatives. Maradu municipality chairperson T H Nadeera said that Sarwate was acting as an agent of Vijaya Steels, the company carrying out the demolition.
Sarwate was reluctant to visit the affected houses despite repeated requests from Nadeera. He, however, changed his mind on Wednesday and visited the houses with police protection.
First, he visited the house of Karottu Hari who lives close to Alfa Serene. Hari alleged that a wide crack has been spotted on the staircase to the terrace of his house after the demolition works started. However, Sarwate's instant response after seeing the crack was that it had nothing to do with the demolition.
Sarwate also said that the cracks found on the walls of the house of Ajith Kaniyampilli too were not caused due to the demolition. He, however, admitted that the cracks developed recently.
"I'm speaking for the people. I can guarantee that nothing will happen due to the demolition," he said, adding that all precautions are being taken ahead of carrying out the demolition by controlled blasts.
Earlier talking to Onmanorama, Hari and Ajith had said that the cracks on their houses developed following the demolition of a swimming pool on the compound of the flats. Concrete pieces had fallen on the yard of Hari's house during the demolition works. Hari had raised the issue with the officials of Vijaya Steels then. The company erected a wall of aluminium sheets around the flats then.
Reacting to Sarwate's comments, Hari told Onmanorama that “he is not the final authority of building demolition.”
“Even before visiting the houses, he had told media that the cracks did not develop due to demolition works. The crack on the staircase was not there when the sub collector and MLA (M Swaraj) visited the house earlier after we raised some complaints. Then how can Sarwate decide that it was not due to demolition works,” an agitated Hari asked.
Hari said Sarwate did not have any answer to many of their queries during a meeting held after his visit to the houses. Municipal chairperson, sub collector and a representative of an insurance company also attended the meeting at the municipality.
“We want to insure our houses based on the present market value. The sub-collector has agreed to our demands regarding the insurance. He will be reporting it to higher authorities,” Hari said.
The municipal chairperson said the demolition workers were behaving rudely with the people in the neighbourhood. She said sub collector Snehil Kumar Singh, the officer in charge of the demolition, had admitted that Vijaya Steels was working unscientifically.
Two companies, Vijaya Steels and Edifice Engineering, were selected for demolition of the flats by the Kerala government after consultation with Sarwate, a Bhopal-based explosion expert. Sarwate has supervised demolition of over 300 buildings.
The Supreme Court in May ordered to demolish the four flat complexes after it found that the buildings were constructed in violation of coastal regulation zone rules.
Demolition schedule revised
The proposed date for demolition of the flats by controlled blast has been revised following pressure from those who reside in surrounding areas. As per the new schedule, two flats - Jains Coral Cove and Golden Kayaloram – which are located in a less populated area will be demolished on January 11. Earlier, it was decided to demolish the flats H2O Holy Faith and Alfa Serene on this date. The owners of the houses near Alfa Serene have protested this move and sought demolishing the other flats first to ensure no damages occur to the surrounding buildings.