Kochi: The demolition of four high-rise apartment complexes in Kerala's Maradu municipality will be remembered in history not only for the controversy surrounding it, but also for the perfect planning and execution.
The controlled implosion of the buildings on January 11 and 12 marked the culmination of a three-month process in which the district administration worked like a well-oiled machinery. Operation Maradu was an antithesis to the sluggish government machinery notorious for its inaction and red-tapism.
After it became clear that the state government had no other option than razing the buildings as per a Supreme Court order, dated May 8, 2019, the authorities worked overtime to implement the verdict.
People residing the four flat complexes were evicted in the first week of October and the buildings were handed over to the companies entrusted with demolition on October 11. Exactly three months later, the buildings have been done and 'dusted'. And, there's nothing to complain about, at least for the time being.
A sense of professionalism, often missing in government actions of such a grand scale, was clearly visible in the demolition of the buildings in two days. There was only a few minutes' delay in the schedule due to some unavoidable technical reasons.
Right from managing the control room to the crowd, the district administration and the state agencies could set an example with the Maradu operation.
Fears of the blasts causing damage to nearby buildings - especially those near the twin towers of Alfa Serene - were proven wrong, courtesy the expertise of the demolition companies and the technical team that oversaw the operations.
Apprehensions over the debris falling into the nearby lake also were misplaced. Only in case of Alfa Serene-2, some portion of the debris into the lake. It was, however, a planned move to avoid damage to some houses in the neighbourhood. Local residents have already expressed their gratitude to the structural engineers involved in the operation and deputy controller of explosions Venugopal for addressing their concerns.
Authorities had evacuated hundreds of residents and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to control the surge in the number of spectators.
The police took extra care to ensure that nobody breached the prohibitory order. The way they handled the local residents who were concerned about their houses and the selfie-craving demolition-tourists were praiseworthy. They were often heard saying, “it's all for your safety.” The fire and rescue services personnel deserved special mention for inspecting the sites immediately after the blasts.
From evacuating the people from the exclusion zones (200-metre radius of the buildings to be demolished) to inspecting the blast sites, the set protocol was followed keenly.
District Collector S Suhas and City Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare made it a point to visit each blast sites and the surrounding areas after implosions. While Suhas called it a 'wonderful' job, Sakhare highlighted the coordination among the agencies.
Fort Kochi Sub Collector Snehilkumar Singh can be extremely proud of the success of the mission. Ever since he was appointed the officer-in-charge of the demolition, he had a hectic work schedule, meeting agencies, officers, media and the people. He managed to finish the job he was entrusted with in style despite facing allegations of antagonising the members of the municipal council. He showed what it means to say 'grace under pressure'.
Now, the same professionalism and commitment are expected from the authorities in the removal of the debris without affecting public life.