CHENNAI: On Friday night, a half of the rear stands like a skeleton with only the pillars and beams in place. The other half remains intact with exception of burn scars. Beneath the wall, a JCB (earthmover) stands atop a pile of rubble gathering more. “The height of the pile is insufficient for the jaw cutter to reach the top,” said an inspecting engineer on site. “The plan is to increase the height by another ten feet,” he said pointing to the 12-15ft pile of debris beneath the machine. The demolition work, however, stopped by twilight. He added that access to the building had been a problem since the beginning.
Large vehicles stay parked on the road. And taking truck loads of debris in and out has proved time-consuming given that the building had only one access route on the eastern side.
“This is our only option. We will push the rear (eastern) wall inside and mount our machine on that debris and remove the rest using jaw cutter machines, “said Peer Mohammed, from Parveen traders — the private firm employed for demolition.
“We will bring down the height of the building and the work will get faster after that,” he said, adding, the work may happen for over three days easily. When asked about the safety of neighboring buildings, he said they will employ technology to push the walls only on the inside. “Our company has performed several demolitions, inside the city and this technique has worked even for buildings taller than ten floors,” he said.
The building was initially to be brought down using the implosion technology that was used in demolishing the lone Moulivakkam building last year but officials feared it would cause damage to nearby buildings, according to a top Public Works Department official. PWD, which is providing technical expertise on bringing the building down, said that they opted for jaw crushing technology as it is apt for demolishing structures in congested place and results in less vibrations. As debris is being piled to ensure the machinery starts demolishing from the roof of the building, the PWD official said that it would take three days to bring down the whole building.
Initially, PWD has suggested that the building should be demolished from the flyover side but Great Chennai Corporation officials objected to it fearing threat to the flyover. “Now we are trying to bring down the building from the Eastern side,” the official said.
A structural engineering expert on condition of anonymity says that using the jaw crushing technology would result in more than five days. It would require lot of manpower and the biggest challenge would be on how to dispose off the debris, he said. The expert also added that the temperature due to fire would have gone beyond 800 degree celsius due to the materials that have been stocked inside. Added to it was the tropical weather, which would have accelerated corrosion,” he added.
The CEO of Maglink Infra Projects Limited P Ponlingam, who was instrumental in demolishing Moulivakkam building last year, told Express that before demolishing an inspection should have been conducted on where all the structure has weakened.
Breaking it down
- The building will take five days to bring down using Jaw Crushing technology.
- PWD preferred Jaw Crushing technology to Implosion technology as it will be safe for structures nearby.
- The challenge would be to clear the debris which will accumulate after the building is demolished.
- Chennai Corporation opposed demolition from the flyover end fearing threat to the bridge.