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Evacuate immediately: Retired soldier’s battle to save 256 families from 2 crumbling apartments in Kochi yields results

Col Ciby George, who is leading the battle against the poor quality construction of the 'Chanderkunj' towers at Silver Sand Island, Vyttila in Kochi.

Resilience and determination of a retired soldier to save the lives of 256 families from two crumbling apartment buildings constructed by Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) in Kochi, Kerala, have finally yielded results with two government bodies recommending urgent action that includes the immediate evacuation of residents to protect their lives.

A technical team of Thripunithura Municipality and the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), which conducted a technical evaluation of the two apartment buildings – Tower B and C, has now unanimously recommended immediate evacuation of the families from the buildings for their safety. The buildings, ‘Chanderkunj’ towers constructed by AWHO on Silver Sand Island, Vyttila, once considered a symbol of security and comfort for its occupants, has now become a looming threat to the safety of over 256 families residing within its walls.

The retired soldiers, who had served their nation with valour, found themselves in a predicament when they witnessed their apartment, bought with their hard-earned money, started to crumble part by part because of low-quality construction marred by corruption. The apartment buildings were handed over to the occupants after completion of works in 2018.

Though the fight against the poor quality construction was started by retired soldier Colonel Ciby George, 56, a civil engineer who served in the engineering division of the Army for over 30 years, other retired soldiers who bought the apartment, soon joined him realising the gravity of the situation. Col Ciby George could also convince a local court in Kochi about the poor construction of the building and get a favourable direction from the court based on which Kochi city police registered a case and launched a probe.

It was based on their repeated pleas highlighting concern for the safety of the residents that the two government bodies conducted thorough inspections of the building and confirmed the grim reality: the structural integrity of the apartment has been compromised to such an extent that it could collapse at any moment. The findings have now prompted an immediate directive for the evacuation of all residents to prevent potential disaster.

“Our concerted efforts to open the eyes of the authorities concerned have finally yielded results. The government departments have officially acknowledged the unsafe condition of the buildings in which we live in constant fear of collapse. The entire project is mired in irregularities, and we want a detailed investigation by a central agency to bring out the truth and book the culprits,” Colonel Ciby George told “Open Digest“.

Colonel C M Unnithan, another owner of an apartment, who is fighting for justice, said the three reports now confirm the horrifying reality that the five-year-old buildings are on the verge of collapse because of unscientific and low-quality construction.

According to the report submitted by the Assistant Executive Engineer of the Thripunithura Municipality, following a directive from the Deputy Collector, the condition of the building is deemed irreparable, necessitating the immediate evacuation of its inhabitants. The report submitted by the civil engineering wing of GCDA has also recommended immediate evacuation of all the residents from Towers B and C.

An independent study conducted by an expert from IIT, Chennai, also strongly recommended “(a) Immediate removal of all the partially de-bonded vertical granite panels above the elevator doors and all loose concrete from the staircase elements. These are severe falling hazards and a serious threat to the lives of the users, even during the proposed evacuation. (b) Immediate evacuation of all the residents from Towers B and C. (c) Immediate removal of all the remaining partially de-bonded vertical granite panels around the elevators.”

24 Comments

  1. Anonymous February 8, 2024

    The biggest corrupt system is the military and Railways.
    No one knows how the biggies make money as nothing is disclosed. The personnel involved in tendering make loads of money and then blame it on the system.

  2. Anonymous February 8, 2024

    There’s another one in Bengaluru. Unfortunately the residents have not yet gone legal

  3. JP February 8, 2024

    I wish to disagree that Military is one of the biggest corrupt system.
    Exceptions are everywhere. But exceptions cannot lead to generalisation.
    By far Military is one of the finest organisations. There is no contradicting that AWHO has a poor track record. But Military is not just AWHO. Its a miniscule part of a big functionally efficient system.
    Jai Hind.

  4. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    Yes, have heard that the procurement process changed hands from civilians to those in uniform following which…..

  5. jay February 9, 2024

    All the decicisions are made by the Executive Comittee headed by a serving officer at the rank pf a Lt Gen. He The concerned officers should be subjected to a CBI enquiry. If found guilty the entire coct of rebuilding should be recovered from them.

  6. George Thomas K February 9, 2024

    I had been a supplier of products registered with railways and military. Railway officials think all suppliers are like local order suppliers who inflate price 200-300% and supply spurious items and demand commission of 20-25% in each department. We used get 10-15% commission from manufacturer for tendering, supplying, installation and warranty service for 12-18 months.
    But military system is much better comparing with railways.
    As you have imagined, I stopped supplying to both.

  7. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    then there are those who were not allotted a house even though were on waiting list for 10 years

  8. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    It’s saddening to see the plight of the Ex & serving personnel for the Defence Forces & their families to go through such harrowing experiences due to corruption in AWHO Construction. It brings shame to the most Respectable Profession of the Country due to certain elements or depts of the Military prone to extreme corruption like the AWHO or MES & the likes. I had served the Nation in Army but never seen an iota of corruption in my Regiment, except in MES related work primarily looking after Construction & Maintenance of the Buildings and fitting meant for or occupied by the Armed Forces. I am sure same corrupt personnel in civil & in Forces exist in AWHO involved in malpractices. There should be investigation and punishment to such corrupt officials to serve as detrimental for such practices to happen in future.

  9. Syam February 9, 2024

    AWHO has nothing to do with Military. It is a registered society.

  10. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    Why the reporter is afraid to mention the builder, SHILPA CONSTRUCTIONS, . They should also be black listed from all further constructions, State or centre.

  11. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    Unfortunate

  12. Anonymous February 9, 2024

    Mention the name of the owners and directors of the shilpa construction. Else they just start business under a new name.

  13. Jacob February 10, 2024

    Corruption in specific Govt.Depts., especially where financial transparency is given a backfoot, leads one to believe how strong the pillars of our nation is when it comes to constructive business. The architect who certified the sturdiness of construction needs to be arrested since he being technically qualified has failed to highlight the same.

  14. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    In Military MES is the most corrupt organisation. Corruption exists in other branches too to some extent but limited to goodies and misuse of facilities and resources. Corruption in terms of money is limited and is done by hard core criminal like people who were probably selected and promoted by mistake (mistakes are made by SSB and promotion boards too , as they are also humans).

  15. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    Wrong Syam. AWHO is by the army, of the army and for the army. Housing plans are decided, executed and supervised by AWHO personnel, many of whom are serving officers of Corps of Engineers. The rot is the same as in Military Engineering Service or MES.

  16. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    I am living in an AWHO apartment in Gurgaon for last 22 years without any problem. Luck of the draw! Hope you folks in the Koch AWHO reach a honourable conclusion. All the best.

  17. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    No one mentioned about the role of BR Associates, the agency fully responsible to monitor the quality of this construction.
    Well that agency was hired by AWHO for designing and supervision of project.
    Someone above just posted about Shilpa Construction.
    In this case construction and supervision is entirely done by two civilian agencies and not military

  18. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    How old are these buildings ??
    Did the association of owners initiate yearly maintenance. What are the track record of owners association in timely upkeep of the buildings and infrastructure and other facilities. Every building has its own limits and not for eternity.

  19. A V Akhilesh February 10, 2024

    Who is the builder? Who approved the construction and issued the Occupancy Certificate?

  20. Anonymous February 10, 2024

    The builder and the consultant nexus. The one man project dir from AWHO has consultant as his eyes and ears. That besides there is check by visiting AWHO officials. The entire team associated with the project need to be a part of solution.

  21. Anonymous February 11, 2024

    Bring the digital transfer of money in ever aspect to block the corruption at every level otherwise such activities can’t stopped pl thick and act

  22. K Subramani AE February 11, 2024

    Bring the digital transfer of money in ever aspect to block the corruption at every level otherwise such activities can’t stopped pl thick and act

  23. K Subramani AE February 11, 2024

    Bring the digital transfer of money in every aspect to block the corruption at every level otherwise such activities can’t stopped pl thick and act

  24. Anonymous February 15, 2024

    Can someone tell us why Col. Ciby Geroge, who is campaigning for immediate evacuation of Tower B &C is still residing in Tower C. Why he is not evacuating tower C?

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