- Demolition talks were ongoing for the last 5–6 months with residents
- Over 7,000 people were asked to evacuate their houses
- Twin Tower demolition generated an estimated 80,000 tonnes of debris
New Delhi: India’s tallest structures, the Apex and Ceyane Towers, colloquially referred to as the Noida Supertech Twin Towers, were demolished on August 28, on the orders of the Supreme Court which found the structures to have been built in violation of norms. The 32-storey and 29-storey buildings were brought to ground zero within a few seconds by a controlled explosion. The explosives were placed inside both towers and distributed on each of the floors.
More than 7,000 people, in the building, Supertech Emerald, and the ATS village were asked to evacuate their premises.
Twin Tower Demolition: A Resident’s Perspective
Aditi Mehra, who has been living in a society near the demolition area for the last five years, narrated her experience. The people residing beside the twin towers were asked to vacate the area, but the ones living in ATS and Supertech were given an advisory.
I live in Parsvnath Sector 93A, the society next to ATS. We were given an advisory to shut our windows, cover our cars, air conditioners, etc., for the whole day. I could not witness the demolition, but I could hear the blast. We felt the tremors. There was a storm of dust which settled in an hour or so.
Mrs. Mehra was a part of discussions that took place occasionally among the residents of Emerald and ATS (the societies right beside the twin towers) about the legalities of the construction, the decade-long battle between Supertech and the locals about how the concrete structures had replaced the green patch that was supposed to be in front of Tower One. The promised ‘green area’ was the base of both the Ceyane and Apex towers.
The destruction has come with its share of impact on the environment. The 9-second explosion had a great effect on the quality of air in the circumambient area. This is grave, given that the air quality in Noida is one of the worst in the country.
According to the news agency PTI, the demolition generated an estimated 80,000 tonnes of debris and sent huge clouds of dust billowing into the air.
Environmentalist Diwan Singh said such blasting generates a series of physicochemical pollutants that can have a significant impact on the habitat and health. He highlighted the demolition’s effect on land, trees, and other living organisms:
This collapse might have had dramatic effects on other organisms. The birds and the new hatches that were in nearby parks must have suffered and some may have died.
Mr. Singh said the breathing abilities and respiratory functions of the trees are also affected by such blasts, as the leaves and the canopy will be completely covered in dust. But the upcoming rain could be a big sigh of relief, he added.
Talking about the waste produced by such destructions, Mr Singh said,
One of the important factors in this whole exercise is that around 15 acres of land have been marked for storing construction and demolition (C&D) waste. The fear of chemical secretions going underneath is dangerous to groundwater, because construction wastes have a lot of chemicals, and these are likely to penetrate the ground.
Mr. Singh opines that the designated land could have been put to better, greener use.
India has only 1 per cent capacity to recycle its C&D waste and that’s a poor status. It is important to monitor the recycling of the waste generated, and dedicate an infrastructure to take care of it.
Mr. Diwan Singh also pointed out the wastage of resources that has happened due to this demolition:
Iron, steel, water, cement, sand, aggregates, metals, bricks, etc., used, have their footprints in forests, rivers, groundwater, and other natural features, and they suffer because of the extraction and processing of these resources. You will observe that in any TV debate or court argument, this issue is not raised. This is a serious matter and the calculations must come to the fore. We need to think about nature, we owe so much.
Goodbye Corruption Towers. pic.twitter.com/ImLYO9CiDW
— Sanket Upadhyay (@sanket) August 28, 2022
Environmentalist Ananda Banerjee quoted dust as being a primary factor in the demolition. Residents who have pulmonary issues will be significantly affected by this, he said.
As for the environment, he opines that the demolition will undoubtedly contribute to the bad quality of air in Noida and the dramatic effects could be witnessed in the coming months. However, the aftereffect of the destruction also depends on how quickly and effectively thousands of tonnes of debris are moved out, he added.
Speaking of the demolition, Mr. Banerjee said,
This had to be done, this way or that way. This is the second biggest after Kochi’s Jain Coral Cove. Demolition of this magnitude would contribute to the bad quality, but its effect is not as major as other issues that have harmed the environment, such as subtle burning.
Health Factors Of The Twin Town Demolition
Concerning the health of the residents post the demolition, the doctors have advised people with respiratory problems and diseases to take precautionary measures and avoid visiting the area for a few days, PTI reported.
Besides, there can be increasing episodes of itching in the eyes, nose, and skin, difficulty in breathing, coughing, sneezing, etc., due to pollution. Besides, people are prone to lung infections, nasal congestion, and asthmatic attacks, the report added.
Speaking to NDTV, Head of Department & Consultant for Pulmonology at Manipal Hospital, Dr. Satyanarayan, detailed one of the major aftereffects of such demolition is indoor pollution.
These building materials have radon particles (in bricks, etc.), which are radioactive substances but not harmful. Such demolition leads to their spread. Another point to note is if there is any contamination of water bodies. If so, people need to be aware of waterborne diseases.
Dr. Satyanarayan advised the residents living in the vicinity to wear a mask, not only from the perspective of COVID-appropriate behaviour but while walking around the perimeter of the twin towers. He also emphasised the need to have occupational health safety standards in place.
Generally, people can use air purifiers as a temporary measure, even though controlled medical studies have not shown their benefits, but there is no harm. The season of influenza is also approaching, and children, older adults, and pregnant women are prone to it. So, people eligible must take the influenza vaccine.
Challenges For The Authority
Ritu Maheshwari, Chief Executive Officer of Noida, told NDTV that demolition talks were ongoing for the last 5–6 months with locals and the members of resident welfare associations. Prior to the explosion, the Noida authorities had safeguarded the pipeline, gas connections, etc., to avoid any kind of contamination.
The authorities closely monitored the air quality index (AQI) and PM10 levels before and after the demolition through 20 monitoring stations. Reportedly, it had shot up at the time of demolition but came back within acceptable limits.
Mrs. Maheshwari said the challenges that lie ahead are clearing the site, waste processing, and so forth. She said the authorities have set up a 3-month timeline to ascertain the post-demolition situation, including waste processing, pushing back the debris, and conducting structural audits.
— CEO, NOIDA Authority #IndiaFightsCorona (@CeoNoida) August 29, 2022
As of Monday (August 29), nearly 500 workers and machinery, including 100 water tankers, 22 anti-smog guns, and six sweeping machines, have been installed around the demolished area for the cleaning work, news agency PTI reported.
The officials visited areas surrounding the Twin Tower site to evaluate the work progress post-demolition.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.