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Noida demolition: Repair flaws in system, not just crack in walls

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By Sidharth Mishra

The Sunday before the last, we had the nation glued to the television sets to a post-lunch spectacle of the twin towers built by real estate giant Supertech in Noida being brought down. Some news channels called it as ‘Towers of Corruption’. The channels had a field day, in fact they built up the feverish pitch talking about the event overlooking all the other developments for more than 24 hours.

Many years ago, at a seminar, one had heard the late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley say, “Camera likes sad pictures.” The much adored attorney had gone onto to say, “Camera, per say, likes unhappy people. It likes tragedies. It can capture a flood, an earthquake, and a famine. It can capture very easily an angry man or a suffering person. So if you say this year India had best-ever food grain production in history, which is factually correct, the camera is bored with that item. It doesn’t have any value. It likes a house broken in an earthquake; it doesn’t like the building which is standing erect.”

None really cared about the twin-towers in Noida except those who had invested in them and those who felt cheated for the twins encroaching on their legitimate open space. For the first time in 2012, the residents of the society approached the court. The builder had sold the flats promising green areas around them, instead, twin towers were erected there.

Thereafter it was a decade long-struggle between the citizens of the neighbouring societies and the builder. It became a people’s movement in the court, unfortunately one of the spearhead of the movement was consumed by Covid 19 before he could see his struggle fructify.

The world took notice of it only after it became clear that a huge spectacle at demolition was in the offing. The news on the demolition is now slowly petering out with some coverage on the cracks the demolition may have caused to the neighbouring buildings.

The news would finally be over with none talking about the cracks in our system, which allowed the so-called towers of corruption to come up in the first place. The government set up a four-member special investigation team in September 2021 to fix the responsibility of officials of the NOIDA and Supertech builders after the Supreme Court observed that there was collusion between the two.

Following this action has been initiated against 26 persons, which includes government officials and the promoters of Supertech Limited, their architects among others. Hopefully, UP government adopts the same policy of zero tolerance in this matter also as it has adopted in other cases albeit of much smaller magnitude.

Noida and Greater Noida is replete with the tales of the builder firms which took the investors for a ride. There were two those who invested their ill-gotten money into these projects to get return on their investments. No wonder many an owners/allottees of the flats in the twin towers did not come forward to make a claim.

Such realty firms, many of them bankrupt now and promoters of some of them cooling heels behind the bars, prospered under corrupt regimes. The investments and share-holding of some of these leaders in these realty firms are part of the folklore.

Would the government plan to expand the scope of prosecution beyond the list of 26, which incidentally doesn’t have the names of any political leaders. Their role in the crime should not be pushed under the carpet. The challenge lies in not the repairs of the cracks in the walls but flaws in the system.    

(First Published in The Morning Standard) 


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