Families near the demolition site of an Indian skyscraper Vacate Homes

NOIDA, India (Reuters) – Thousands of people were ordered out of their apartments on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi for around 10 hours on Sunday, ahead of the demolition of two illegally built skyscrapers.

Dozens of police and emergency personnel have been deployed for the operation, which is expected to take nine to 15 seconds, to the 103-metre (338ft) high towers, which have 850 unoccupied apartments.

Traffic has been diverted around Apex and Ceyane towers at 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 lengthy legal battle found they violated several building regulations and fire safety standards.

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More than 3,700 kg (8,100 pounds) of explosives are to be used around 2:30 p.m. (0900 GMT) to level the buildings through controlled demolition, officials told local news stations. Buildings are supposed to collapse after strategically placed explosives are detonated, ensuring minimal damage to the residential area.

Still, several families moved to safety on Saturday, fearing increased pollution and health risks from the massive debris.

Sudeep Roy, owner of 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’s best to stay away from the blast site for 24 hours because the air will become toxic and we don’t know how it can affect our health,” said Roy, a mechanical engineer and father of twins. one of which suffers. asthma.

The blast will leave over 80,000 tonnes of rubble, most of which will need to be used to fill the site and the rest will need to be recycled.

Some nearby buildings were covered with white plastic sheeting to protect them from flying debris after demolition. Residents said they feared their properties could be damaged by the force of the blasts, a rare occurrence in India despite rampant illegal construction.

(Writing by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Rupam Jain and William Mallard)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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