Oct 05
The Spirit that Fuels Hazira
The Spirit that Fuels Hazira
Beyond the obvious cultural symbolism, statues and sculptures are open, often daring declarations of the values we hold dear and the ideals we exalt as a collective. As monuments to extraordinary deeds by extraordinary men, they offer inspiration and spiritual nourishment in moments of frailty and despair. Statues are as much a record of past glories as they are guides for readying blueprints for future triumphs. The flame-shaped sculptures installed at L&T’s Hazira Campus not just honour the bold vision of L&T’s Group Executive Chairman Mr. A.M. Naik but also the spirit that continues to guide L&T and its people.

On September 16, 2017, on a balmy Saturday afternoon, four imposing flame-shaped sculptures symbolizing the spirit of L&T’s Hazira Manufacturing Complex (HZMC) were unveiled at the hands of Mr. A.M. Naik, Group Executive Chairman, L&T. The sculptures installed prominently at key locations viz., SBU Block (HZMC East), West Block (HZMC West), MHP Block-Boiler JV (HZMC West) and Central Training Centre Workshop (HZMC West) within the vast 750 acre campus are meant to inspire L&T-ites to dream big and never concede in the face of adversities.

Tributes all, to the bold vision of Mr. Naik, the enormous stainless steel sculptures serve as perfect proxies for his steely resolve; there’s little doubt that had it not been for Mr. Naik, L&T would never have had the state-of-the-art manufacturing complex to its name.

With his wife Mrs. Geeta Naik by his side, Mr. Naik unveiled the awe-inspiring metal sculptures in the presence of senior L&T-ites including Mr. S.N. Roy, Whole-Time Director & Sr. Executive Vice President (Power, Heavy Engg. & Nuclear), Mr. Subramanian Sarma, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director (L&T Hydrocarbon), Mr. J.D. Patil, Whole-Time Director & Sr. Executive Vice President (Defence Business), Mr. Y.S. Trivedi, SVP & Head (Process Plants & Nuclear), Mr. Atik Desai, Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer (Central Services, HZMC) and local staff who were on hand to witness the grand ceremony.

Though Mr. Naik is a regular at Hazira and visits the campus frequently, the Saturday afternoon event had a special, celebratory feel of a hero’s homecoming. Around 2.00 pm, Mr. & Mrs. Naik drove down to the Nuclear Heavy Fabrication Shop to unveil a plaque commemorating the driving of the first foundation pile (Y23-HFS 1) some 32 years ago. It was there that in July 1985 L&T formally began constructing what the world would later come to call its manufacturing muscle. Hazira which redefined L&T’s manufacturing credentials and firmly put the company on par with global engineering giants wouldn’t be what it is today if not for its talented and extremely dedicated workforce. The workers many of whom had stayed back after their shifts just to be a part of the event, cheered loudly as Mr. Naik pulled the string to unveil the commemorative inscription. They were accompanied by HZMC Unit Heads, HE Union Representatives, wives of senior officials invited especially for the event as well as the members of the local chapter of L&T Ladies Club.

The GEC then proceeded to water the first Paras Pipal tree near the steel yard. Planted on June 12, 1986, by Mr. Naik himself, the tree symbolizes Hazira’s growth story and has been a quiet witness to the remarkable work carried out by L&T for over three decades.

Mere meters away from the Pipal tree across the street in front of the SBU Block (HZMC East) stood a metal colossus covered neatly by a white drape. As Mr. Naik’s pull of the string brought down the drape, loud cheers went up in the air and the public got its first view of the beautifully designed sculpture in all its chromed glory.    

Designed and crafted by avant-garde sculptor  Jitendra Patel of Vadodara, the sculpture stands 19.9 inches tall and is as much a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship as anything manufactured at HZMC. Comprising 70 different sections made from 500 pieces after an elaborate 27 step manufacturing process, the piece is a a rhapsody of soaring metal, depicting strength, resilience, and of course an unshakable spirit. 

Mr. Naik then drove to other three spots within the campus where similar sculptures awaited the big reveal. Everywhere he went, staffers greeted Mr. Naik warmly. He grasped each proffered hand with a repeated greeting.
Post the unveiling ceremony, the action shifted to the West Block auditorium where a large crowd had gathered to hear Mr. Naik talk. The eager audience got its wish but not before it was treated to a wonderful trip down the memory lane. The journey back into time was curated by Ms. Avani Vansia, DGM - TQM & Organisational Excellence (L&T Heavy Engineering) who presented a photo-film depicting in vivid detail how the manufacturing complex first came into being and grew to become the manufacturing powerhouse it is today. The black & white and sepia toned pictures taken during the early years of Hazira when some of the first shops were built, brought back a flood of old memories for many in the room.

Following the film, Mr. S.N. Roy in a brief remark noted how the Hazira Complex was a mindboggling accomplishment and perhaps the truest manifestation of Mr. Naik’s incomparable grit and determination. “Turning what was once a marshy swath into one of the world’s best manufacturing facilities through sheer will and perseverance is something that only Mr. Naik could have done and I sincerely doubt if we will have anyone with the foresight to achieve anything remotely similar,” he declared.

A detailed presentation by Mr. Atik Desai next informed the audience about the elaborate process involved in making the sculptures. Everything from figuring out the size and the location to selecting the material to working closely with the artist to settle on the design to deciding the right orientation for the best view of the sculptures at each location, the exhaustive presentation covered it all. Few could have imagined the extent of work that went into the job.
Mr. Y.S. Trivedi, an old hand at Hazira and one of the first ones to accompany Mr. Naik to the hallowed grounds where HZMC stands today took to the stage next. Visibly moved, Mr. Trivedi said that it had been an honour to witness the 34 year long journey of Hazira and one of his life’s greatest joys to have contributed towards realizing the dreams of Mr. Naik.
An every bit as emotional Mr. Naik reminisced about the early days in his speech. He spoke about how he would travel to Hazira every week on Thursday, oversee the ongoing work for the next couple of days and leave on Saturday night to come back to work in Powai on Sundays. The challenges he faced and overcame, the people who worked alongside him – his colleagues and workers on whose backs the facility prospered, and how HZMC far ended up exceeding his own vision, Mr. Naik’s address had plenty for the audience to hold on to.

Mr. Naik also spoke of the further plans to revamp and expand the facility to prepare it for the next phase of growth – defence and hinted that Hazira could play a major role in L&T’s bid in the sector in the days ahead.

In his concluding remarks, he urged L&T-ites in the room and those witnessing the event live over webcast to take inspiration from the exemplary work put in by the generation past and forge ahead with equal grit and determination. “There is no manufacturing facility in the world which makes nuclear reactors, equipment for chemical plants and refineries, complicated forgings and ultra large equipment quite like Hazira does. HZMC is no longer just a shop or a manufacturing complex but it has far exceeded my initial vision and I urge you grow it even bigger with the spirit of Hazira as your guiding light.”

A scale model replica of the sculpture was presented to Mr. & Mrs. Naik on the occasion on behalf of HZMC administration and the event organisers.

Mrs. Geeta Naik who would often accompany Mr. Naik on his trips to Hazira when the facility was still coming up, was also recognised for doing her part in bringing about a sense of cohesion and oneness among the staff and their families. Her quiet strength and freedom it offered Mr. Naik to pursue his vision contributed greatly in making Hazira the manufacturing Mecca it is today. 

Long before he took over the reins of L&T and unleashed a cavalcade of successful businesses, Mr. Naik created Hazira, an experiment that pushed L&T into a league of its own and set the company on a growth path from which it has never had to look back. Future generation may seldom believe that HZMC stands on what was once a swamp, a vast stretch of nothingness where a few dared to go. Hazira will forever serve as proof of Mr. Naik’s grand vision, his unrelenting pursuit of excellence and perhaps most of all his indomitable spirit. The same that continues to fuel it after all these years!

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