Scrap shapes elephant God of railways

Lower Parel, Mahalaxmi workshops display unique idols.

The Lower Parel railway workshop Ganesh idol is a burning example of how to put waste to best use. The six-foot-tall idol made entirely from dumped railway bogie parts stands proudly inside a temple made from scrap generated by the workshop. The Lord and His abode are so unique, it is hard to miss them even amid the hectic activity around.

"I created the idol around three years ago. All of us who work here pray to it every day. It is a symbol of our dedication to railways. It sends out the message that even scrap is given the form of God here," said Santosh Gajakosh, a grade-I fitter who maintains old coaches, beats iron panels into shape and repairs equipment.

While the idol trunk is made of equalising stay rods, milk tank brass hangers make its ears and air suspension cylinders the body. The idol is repainted and decorated before every Ganesh and other festivals.

The heavy duty railway workshop at Mahalaxmi too is a proud possessor of two such Ganesh idols and an 'iron man'.

"It takes 10-12 days to complete the work," said Ganesh Laxman Ambekar, a grade-I welder who has made the two idols, one showing Ganpati playing a musical instrument.

The 'iron man' gifted by bogie assembling unit staff to Indian Railways on the 85th anniversary of electrification of WR, is symbolic of the core nature of the Mahalaxmi workshop that maintains local trains.

Ambekar and Gajakosh's enthusiasm is shared by Rajan Bhagwat, a junior engineer in the mechanical department of the diesel locomotive shed in Pune. He also spends considerable time and effort in creating idols from scrap.

"In 2001, I made an idol of Lord Ganesh for installation in the bungalow of then Central Railway general manager. In 2003, I made another idol for then GM's Peddar Road bungalow using scrap from diesel locomotives at the shed. I used the lid of a filter drum to make the face of the idol. I have also made idols of Balaji and Padmavathi from scrap. The satisfaction is immense," said Bhagwat.

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