Authorities in southern Kerala state on Saturday razed down two high-rise luxury apartments using controlled implosion in one of the largest demolition drives in India involving residential complexes for violating environmental norms.
The razing of the illegal apartments built very close to a posh lakeside in the state's Maradu district took place after a court last year ordered their demolition for violating laws that prohibit construction within a certain distance from the sea, rivers, lakes and other water bodies.
The apartments were a pale shadow of their former luxurious appearance after demolition agencies for two months chipped away at the buildings, reducing them to a bare skeletal frame. The buildings came down crashing in seconds as a thick cloud of smoke spread to around 200 meters (yards).
Almost 2,000 people in nearby residential areas were evacuated prior to the demolition, which was witnessed by scores of people who recorded the event on their mobile phones.
The remaining two buildings will be demolished on Sunday.
The court's order last year had come as a shock to more than 300 apartment owners. When all legal options to halt demolition were exhausted, they resorted to protests and hunger strikes. Finally, when the administration snapped power supply, they were forced to vacate their homes.
Hours before the demolition, some of the residents also flocked to the site for one last view of their former homes.
Environmental experts have raised concern the demolition of the four structures will have a huge impact on the Vembanadu Lake, which is an ecologically sensitive area.