Till recently Emerald Court at Noida’s Sector 93A was testimony to corruption in the state’s building sector. Today, a mountain of rubble and dust stands at the site. And buried under this huge pile is a story surrounding the controversy, the residents’ legal battle and how the authorities brought the Supertech twin towers down.
Why were the Supertech twin towers demolished?
- New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) gave Supertech permission in 2005 to construct 14 towers with nine stories each, a shopping centre and a garden area. However, Supertech surreptitiously added 2 extra floors to the structure.
- In 2009, changes were made to the proposal by including the Apex & Ceyane twin structures. A case filed by the Emerald Court Owners Residents Welfare Association in the Allahabad HC in 2012 claimed NOIDA officials approved a new plan to illegally construct the twin towers
- Four residents first raised the alarm on violation of building laws by Supertech. They raised donations to fund their legal battle
- In 2014, HC ordered razing the towers. HC castigated NOIDA for collaborating with the builder which was directed to reimburse flat buyers. The same year, Supertech moved SC
What did Supreme Court say on the matter?
On August 31, 2021, a two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and M R Shah pointed to “cooperation” between Noida officials and Supertech management. It also said that the approval plan for the twin towers violated the UP Apartments Act, 2010, and the NBRs of 2006, 2010, 2005 and 1975.
- It held that Supertech had made misleading arguments and attempted to deceive the bench, while NOIDA officials had not carried out their responsibilities honourably.
- NOIDA officials informed SC in February 2022 that demolition work had started and will probably be finished by May 2022. The SC later extended this to August 28, 2022.
- ‘Waterfall implosion’ approach adopted for precise destruction
- This ensured debris to fall like water. Implosion technique through controlled detonation used. Demolition done by Mumbai-based Edifice Engineering along with South African experts Jet Demolitions
- 3,700 kg of explosives placed inside the twin towers. While Apex had 11 primary blast floors, Ceyane had 10
- It took about seven months to prepare this demolition
- Preparations began in February. A trial was done in April.
- Impact cushions reduced vibration from falling debris
What after the demolition?
- Ramky Group has been tasked to remove the debris. About 21,000 cubic mt of debris will be transported and dumped within Noida’s Work Circle 7 boundaries. The area identified is 6 hectare.
- Edifice Engineering will try to recover whatever it can from the collapsed structure. The debris might yield at least 4,000 tonnes of iron and steel, which Edifice will use to partially recoup the demolition costs.
- Some of the debris likely be taken to Sector 80’s waste management facility run by Noida Authority.
Who sanctioned the twin towers?
The Emerald Court society received construction sanction in 2005. Later, changes were made and new sanctions granted
Who argued for demolition?
The demolition order was passed by Allahabad HC in 2014 when Akhilesh Yadav was CM. Then a prosecutor argued that the twin towers should be razed. The case moved to the Supreme Court the same year but the order, which took into account building norm violation, was passed in 2021.
How many apartments were built and sold?
Of the 850 apartments built, 300 were sold to the buyers who were to be paid back
For NOIDA officials, the towers’ location in a residential area and its proximity to the highway, locals’ safety, environmental concerns and disruption to traffic posed a big challenge
So the authorities declared a 500mt radius area around towers as an exclusion zone
Emerald Court and ATS Village security staff were allowed to be on the premises till 12 noon of August 28
Residents told to vacate premises by 7pm on August 28 and also remove their vehicles in the exclusion zone.
Drones were barred from flying in the exclusion zone which also included a portion of the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway where vehicular traffic was stopped between 2:15 pm and 2:45 pm on August 28
Water tankers were kept in readiness so that water could be sprinkled to suppress the flying dust. Hundreds of water sprinklers were deployed
Instruments to check air quality were installed at six places near the site. Air quality data was obtained from them from time to time
Rs 20 crore or J267 per sq ft
Edifice Engineering obtained a Rs 100-crore insurance policy to cover potential losses
Supertech paid about J5 crore as demolition costs
The rest (Rs 15 crore) would be covered by selling the 80,000 tonnes of debris