Everything but time will stand still as the clock strikes 2.30pm on May 22 at Sector 93A in Noida. In the next nine seconds, India’s tallest buildings to be brought down will disappear from the cityscape.
Coincidentally, the nine-second demolition is nine months from the August 31, 2021 order of the Supreme Court for the two Supertech buildings – Apex and Ceyane – to be razed to the ground.
The vicinity will be in a warp of stillness that day as the hours count down to the blasts. Nearly 1,500 families living around the towers will have to leave their homes. Roads leading to the towers as well as the adjacent section of the Noida Expressway will be shut for traffic. Other than the crack of up to 4,000kg of explosives packed into the columns that will trigger the implosions, there will be silence.
Edifice Engineering, the company that has been handed the assignment, shared the demolition plan on Monday in which Ceyane (97m tall, 31 floors) will collapse to the ground first, followed by Apex (100m, 32 floors). The buildings will fall inwards like a cascade, floor by floor. In the buildings where plush apartments were once planned and sold, 10 levels will act as ‘primary blast floors’ and will be interspersed with seven ‘secondary blast floors’. The primary blast floors will have explosives in all columns. In the secondary ones, 40% of the columns will be rigged.
Uttkarsh Mehta, partner at Edifice, told TOI, “Between 2,500kg and 4,000kg of explosives will be required. A test blast has been planned in the last week of March or the first week of April to optimise the use of explosive vis-a-vis safety measures.”
Edifice’s joint venture partner, the South Africa-based Jet Demolitions, is supervising the blast design implementation. The 10 primary blast floors will be ground, 1, 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26 and 30 in both towers. Levels 4, 8, 12, 18, 20, 24, 28 will be the secondary floors. Walls and other removable parts of the buildings like window frames, grilles, doors, wiring and plumbing are being removed from each floor. Each column will be covered with two-three layers of wired mesh and geotextile fabric to stop the debris from flying off.
The charges will induce a pull that is away from the rest of Emerald Court, the condominium of which the twin towers are a part and where 600 families live. Experts will examine Emerald Court and the buildings in the vicinity for damage assessment after the implosions, officials said. Edifice has assured locals there will be no damage to other buildings. In the eventuality of damage, there will be an insurance cover, officials said.
The ‘exclusion zone’ – the blast radius from where families will be asked to shift out – will comprise all of Emerald Court and ATS Greens Village and parts of Parsavnath Prestige, a park and the road in the front of the towers as well as a portion of the Noida Expressway. It will be marked and guard- ed by police and other forces.
Officials said residents in this zone will have to leave their homes at least three hours before the implosions and can return a minimum two hours after it. Traffic on the Noida Expressway will be stopped for an hour.
“We have given a report in this regard to the Noida Authority, but a final evacuation zone will be decided in consultation with police. At the time of the blast, only five persons – two foreign experts, one police personnel, one blaster, and the Edifice project manager, will be present in the zone,” Mehta said.
Mehta said geotextile fabric would be draped on outer walls of nearby buildings that will work as a barrier in case any flying debris escapes the blast radius. The spread of dust cannot be stopped but efforts will be made to minimise it, officials said. Surrounding roads and buildings will be cleaned within a couple of days jointly by RWAs, the authority, Supertech and Edifice, they added.
A row of steel shipping containers (about two storeys tall) will be placed between Emerald Court residential buildings (Aster 2, 3 and 12) and Apex and anchored to the ground. It will be done to protect the 12-storey buildings and the underground parking area of Emerald Court from the spill of rubble. To dampen vibrations due to the impact of debris, impact cushions using rubble and mud from floors will be laid in the basement. Trenches will be dug in the blast area to contain rubble spill.
Fixing explosives to designated columns is called “charging”. This process will take 15 days. Mehta said explosives would be stored at a site about 100km from Noida, and the requisite amount transported daily.
Mehta said there would be no impact on GAIL’s gas pipeline that passes through the area. “The pipeline is 3 metres below the ground. Steel plates of 10-12mm will be laid on the ground over pipelines,” said Mehta. A two-metre layer of rubble above the steel plates will be added.
Handbills giving details of the implosion, including date and time and the evacuation period. Will be distributed 15 days ahead.