Supertech: Demolition team worked through heat and rain to keep deadline
The work initially was bogged down by bureaucratic procedures and clearances and gained pace only as the sweltering summer set in around late May
In February this year, when the weather was still pleasant, Edifice Engineering, the agency tasked with the Supreme Court ordained demolition of Supertech twin towers Apex and Ceyanne, set up camp in Noida’s Sector 93A along with machines, a 200 strong workforce and a team of South African demolition experts.
The work initially was bogged down by bureaucratic procedures and clearances and gained pace only as the sweltering summer set in around late May.
The main task of the demolition team was to rupture the columns, break down walls and weaken the structures. As they went about the job of drilling holes in all columns for fixing explosives, the challenges began creeping up on them.
“These buildings are stronger and there were more sheer walls and columns than the other projects that we have worked on. Core drilling itself was a lot more. In Kochi, during the Maradu flats demolition in 2021, we blew up five of the 18 floors. Here, we are blowing up 18 of 32 floors. Over 17 kilometres of drilling had to be done,” said Mayur Mehta, project manager, Edifice.
The weather was the main challenge as the team worked through June and July when afternoon temperatures soared to 46 degrees Celsius.
“When people are still uncomfortable coming out of their air-conditioned homes and offices, the demolition team worked for 13 days in the searing heat, at a height of over 100 metres,” said Mehta.
He said most of the preparations for the blast was done in July, just as the monsoon clouds darkened the skyline.
On August 8, a team of 16 -- 10 Indians and six foreigners -- started charging or fixing explosives on to the building frame.
“We have nearly four layers of perimeter curtains on the blast floors to catch flyaway debris. The curtains have blocked off all air, ventilation and light on the blast floors and the August temperatures are not helping. I spent 15 minutes on a blast floor and had to climb down to get some air. It was that suffocating. And the team has been working on those floors from dawn to dusk,” said Uttkarsh Mehta, partner, Edifice.
“Once you go in, you are transported to a different zone. It is hot but that’s not the focus. There is slow instrumental music on the floor and some have their earplugs on. It was dehydrating; Mayur ensured that there are two boys ready with cold water kept in ice boxes,” said Uttkarsh.
Every morning there would be a Tool Box Talk. The workers would stand in a queue while the lead team explained their precise task for the day and the safety measures to be taken.
The workers are asked to empty their pockets and hand over phones at the entry to avoid distractions and risks. But they are allowed several smoke/drink breaks, says Mehta. “The site needs calm workers, not anxious ones,” he said.
Usually, there are around 200 labourers on site but there were 400 labourers at one point, all of whom had been working with Edifice on several projects. The 40 workers who were helping with the charging process were handpicked from the workforce of 400.
“We do a specific job that requires a bit more skill than construction. We mainly have labourers from the six states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal. They have all worked with us on multiple projects,” said Mehta.
For 13 days, Mehta said he started his day at 3am and wound up at midnight. “My first call at 3am would be to the escort vehicle to leave for the magazine and explosives. That would be followed by more calls for coordination, site work during the day, attending to anxious calls from neighbours and meetings with authorities,” he said.
With the charging done, the team is now checking every connection multiple times to ensure that there are no glitches on August 28.