We never imagined that scrap could be recycled in such a way that it would become a fully functional vehicle running on a road. And not just any vehicle, but a beautiful vintage jeep! Read how these extremely enterprising and skilled scrap workers make it possible.
India is one of the largest scrap markets in the world, with tonnes of useless, and at times priceless “scrap” being sent to the pits. This story is about a fringe yet specialized enterprising group of scrap dealers-cum-jeep makers.
Not so long ago, old jeeps, old bikes and anything from the past was shunned as outdated, but as the wheel spins, “what goes around comes around”. With internet-induced awareness and the realization of its worth among the few remaining owners of old automobiles, there has been a spike in demand to own, maintain and restore these wonders of the world war – The Jeeps.
Be it the American Jeeps, Japanese-Indianised Jongas, rare English Landrovers and last but not the least, the Mahindras of that era – made under a licensing agreement with the foreign companies.
Now, here lies the problem. We have been too careless about these capable machines and most have ended up with scrap dealers who have purchased them in lots from army auctions, etc. So, to fill the demand-supply gap, a few enterprising scrap welders have started rebuilding these jeeps.
Using nothing but internet images that they download in their “China mobiles”, these people have been doing great “jugaad” as one of them proudly says. But, due to the inherent complications of the law and the fact that these aren’t actually road-worthy as per international standards, even though these machines are restored to almost perfection, the dealers, welders and the final buyer cannot run it legally. This is the reason why these wonderful metal artists have not been named or pictured in the photos.
The pictures are from a scrapyard in the gullies of the Charminar-MJ Market stretch in Hyderabad. I feel that the law should be considerate and practical in this issue. However, with a lot of stuff being just scrap metal at the start, and ending up as a beautiful old jeep, the authorities too are in a fix on what to call this machine or how to register it.
This story shows how skilled these uneducated lot of scrap dealers are, and this story repeats itself in every major state of India like Punjab and Kerala, being heavens for buying a pristine world war era jeep.
India, with its huge unorganized service sector, holds a potential for tremendous growth. But this is only possible if the government and related agencies recognise this sector as a serious growth area. The scrap-to-jeep story is just one example of how enterprising this uneducated but very knowledgeable work force truly is.
See more Invisible Heroes of Everyday here.