Will Signature View apartments go down like Noida towers?

Sep 21, 2023 01:17 AM IST

Officials of DDA are considering a controlled implosion to safely demolish the crumbling Signature View towers in Mukherjee Nagar.

A controlled implosion may be the only way to safely pull down the crumbling Signature View towers in Mukherjee Nagar, officials of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said on Wednesday, underlining that the final plan will be rubber-stamped only after consultations with experts.

The Signature View Apartment at Mukherjee Nagar. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
The Signature View Apartment at Mukherjee Nagar. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Experts, meanwhile, said site inspections and detailed surveys will determine the demolition technique used.

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To be sure, the method ultimately used to bring down the 12 towers will depend on a combination of three factors: safety, time and cost.

READ | Signature View Apartment: Stories of fear, damage and loss

So far, the best possible choice seems to be what was followed to bring down the twin towers in Noida last year, said officials of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). “We have had internal discussions and implosion seems to be the only way to bring down the apartment efficiently and within our time constraints,” said a senior official with DDA, which built Signature View Apartment in 2010.

The Supertech towers were pulled down last August using a controlled implosion, a method which has been used across the world to demolish tall structures. The process is, however, cost-intensive and contingent on structures in the vicinity being safe during the demolition process.

According to an agreement with residents, DDA needs to evacuate, demolish and rebuild the towers within three years of the signing of the evacuation agreement. In the interim, DDA will have to pay rent to all homeowners who choose to return once the rebuilding process is complete.

READ | Signature View residents in Delhi ‘agree’ with DDA’s deal

“The initial challenge is evacuating the premises as soon as possible. We have had multiple discussions with the residents and revisions regarding the terms of evacuation, and will send out the final agreement this weekend,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

The towers will be vacated within two months, said the official.

Evacuations will be the first step towards what is likely to be a long-drawn process of closure for residents of the decrepit residential towers in Mukherjee Nagar, who have, for years, drawn authorities’ attention to their unsafe homes.

Most of the 336 flats in the society have suffered structural damage over the years – with collapsed ceilings, cracked walls and tottering balconies common features across the 12 towers.

Here's a look at a timeline of demolitions in the past and the ways of demolishing a structure.
Here's a look at a timeline of demolitions in the past and the ways of demolishing a structure.

In November 2022, experts from IIT Delhi performed structural checks on the towers and concluded that the apartments were “unfit for habitation”. Following this, Delhi lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena in January this year ordered DDA to “vacate and dismantle” the towers.

HT on June 15 reported that DDA will offer two options to residents — buy back and reconstruction. The terms of both options have been agreed upon by RWA, but a final agreement was to be signed by DDA as well as residents before the residents would start vacating the premises.

Once the evacuation process begins, residents of Signature View will have the choice of selling their flats to DDA , or returning to their flats after they are rebuilt. Owners of middle-income group (MIG) flats will be paid 38,000 as rent, and those of high-income group (HIG) homes will get 50,000. If the construction takes more time, the proposal will be reviewed and rent payments extended.

The three-year timeline makes it incumbent on officials to choose the demolition method that will allow reconstruction as early as possible, said officials. Other techniques, including pulling the towers down using machines, will take more time, they added.

DDA officials said they are in consultation with experts. A tender to recruit a demolition agency is expected to be floated next month.

“We are hoping that the evacuation will be completed in two months’ time. Simultaneously, we will try to ensure that the initial surveys and preparation for the demolition is done. Once the agency is finalised, it will conduct structural audits, surveys and other processes to prepare the building for demolition,” said a second DDA official.

Residents said they are waiting for the agreement for evacuation to start moving out and will prefer any demolition method that speeds up the reconstruction process.

“Some families have already shifted and others are waiting for the final agreement, so that rent payments can begin. We have been told that DDA is considering implosion for the demolition. Anything that can be done soon is fine for us but neighbouring areas may have concerns and the impact of noise, dust and vibrations should be discussed with all stakeholders,” said Amrendra Jha, president of the Signature View Apartments resident welfare body.

Experts said the best demolition technique will be finalised only after proper site inspections and surveys.

“Implosion is one technique, but may not be the only way to demolish the buildings. If the towers are already dilapidated, the preparation of the building by fixing explosives may also be risky for the workers. The best method can only be determined after proper site visit and inspections,” said Uttkarsh Mehta, partner, Edifice Engineering, the company that demolished the Noida Twin Towers.

Experts also said that while implosion takes less time, the various permissions needed from authorities adds to the timeline of the entire process, causing delays.

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