NOIDA, INDIA (AFP, REUTERS) - India demolished two residential high-rise buildings outside New Delhi on Sunday (Aug 28), in a dramatic spectacle carried live on television channels after days of excited media build-up.
The destruction of the 100-metre-high “Twin Towers” in Noida, home to a concrete forest of similar structures, was also a rare example of India getting tough on corrupt developers and officials.
The 32 floors of “Apex” and the 29 of “Ceyane”, containing between them nearly 1,000 apartments that were never inhabited in nine years of legal disputes, were brought down in seconds, creating an immense cloud of dust and debris.
The controlled implosions using 3,700kg of explosives were India’s biggest demolition to date, local media reported.
Thousands of people, as well as stray dogs, had to be evacuated before the blast, including from neighbouring high-rises, one of which was reportedly just nine metres away. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to nearby buildings, though fears had been raised about heightened pollution and health hazards from the massive debris.
Scores of police and emergency personnel were deployed for the operation.
Traffic was diverted around the Apex and Ceyane towers on the edge of a busy highway linking India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, to the capital.
Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of the towers in the Noida area after a long legal battle found they had violated multiple building regulations and fire safety norms.
Mr Sudeep Roy, who owns a four-room apartment in a nearby low-rise building, said he booked hotel rooms last week to spend the night with family and friends.
"It is best to stay away from the blast site for 24 hours because the air will get toxic and we don't know how it can impact our health," said Mr Roy, a mechanical engineer and father of twin boys, one of whom suffers from asthma.
The blast was expected to leave over 80,000 tonnes of rubble, most to be used to fill the site and the rest to be recycled.
Some buildings in the vicinity were covered in white plastic sheets to protect them from debris flying after the demolition.
Residents said they feared damage to their property from the force of the blasts, a rare occurrence in India despite rampant illegal constructions.