SC extends demolition deadline of Noida's Supertech twin towers till August 28
The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the deadline for the demolition of the 32-storeyed twin towers—Apex and Ceyane—in Noida to August 28, three months beyond the earlier deadline set by the court for May 22.
The new date was requested by Edifice Engineering, the private firm contracted to demolish the towers.
A bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud examined the application and found that it met the approval of an expert body – Central Building Research Institute (CBRI)--which, on May 11, communicated its approval for the time extension.
The bench said, “In view of expert opinion, time for completing the work of demolition is extended until August 28, 2022.”
The court also directed the Noida authority to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the steps to carry out the demolition safely and to file a status report before the next date of hearing on July 29.
Before passing the order, the court went through a status report prepared by the Noida authority, indicating that prior to seeking an extension, Edifice Engineering carried out a test blast on April 10 and found the structure sturdier than originally believed. Pursuant to this, Edifice Engineering wrote to Supertech, with a copy marked each to Noida authority and CBRI, with a request to reschedule the final blast date from May 22 to August 28 as it had to re-design the final building blast designs.
This report prepared by Edifice Engineering was presented to the top court by way of an application moved by Supertech’s interim resolution professional (IRP) Hitesh Goel.
Commenting on the application, advocate Gaurav Agrawal, assisting the court as amicus curiae, said, “If it is about safety, an extension may be granted and a report called in this regard by last week of July.”
Initially, even the court felt that it was a ploy by Supertech to delay the demolition that was ordered by the Supreme Court on August 31 last year.
But the court went by a report by CBRI, which is an expert body, that went into the four reasons cited by Edifice Engineering as grounds for seeking additional time.
According to the report, “Edifice Engineering now estimates an increase in blast floors, increase in holes per column, increase of wrapping of columns with wire mesh and geotextile cloth, increase in the quantity of explosives to be used, all of which is causing an additional delay of 9 to 10 weeks.”
Besides, Edifice Engineering attributed the delay to other factors such as interruptions caused by residents of Supertech’s Emerald Court society during the demolition of a nine-metre pathway between the two structures and adjacent towers, the damage to the IGL gas pipeline that required its re-routing, and delay by Supertech in making payments.
The order to demolish the twin towers was first issued by the Allahabad high court in April 2014 on a plea filed by the Emerald Court Apartment Owners’ Association. The residents complained that while purchasing the flats, the area occupied by the towers was shown as a green area and the towers that subsequently came up on this space amounted to a breach of trust by the builder. It also came to light that the structures were in violation of the National Building Code, 2005.
The Supreme Court, on an appeal filed by Supertech, upheld the high court verdict and ordered compensation to the homebuyers who bought flats in the twin towers. Of the 633 persons who booked flats in the twin towers, the court directed Supertech to refund the entire amount deposited by homebuyers with 12% interest. About 248 homebuyers took an early refund while 133 took flats in other Supertech projects, leaving only 252 homebuyers who were to receive a refund as per court’s order.
On February 7, 2022, a bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant directed that Supertech and Edifice Engineering implement the Supreme Court’s August 31, 2021 order to demolish the two buildings in Supertech Emerald Court society without further hold-up. Sources said that Edifice Engineering had earlier sought over four months for preparation. However, the Supreme Court gave them three months’ time, following which May 22 was fixed as the date for demolition.
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