Bundle after bundle of tarpaulin emptied out, giving the grey monotony of stone a lively yellow or pink makeover. Plywood boxes supported by iron scaffoldings rose in the air.
Under the watchful eyes of officials and the sword of an Election Commission (EC) deadline, the UP administration spent Tuesday giving a hurried cover to statues of chief minister Mayawati and elephants — her party BSP's election symbol — in Lucknow and Noida.
At the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal in the state capital, workers sweated all day to drape the nearly 20-feet high elephant statues in plastic sheets.
Those of Mayawati, almost of the same height, went inside wooden boxes.
Wednesday, 5 pm is by when the EC wants curtains on all statues across the state.
But time, manpower, cost and the scale of work appeared to be making it a jumbo task.
A Rajkiya Nirman Nigam official at the Lucknow memorial said each elephant statue would need 1200 sq feet of tarpaulin, which would cost around Rs 1500. Covering a Mayawati statue would be 10 times expensive approximately.
The park has 68 elephant statues. To tackle the bigger ones, several pieces of tarpaulin had to be stitched together. When hands fell short, sweepers from the memorial's maintenance committee were roped in.
"We didn't have to toil like this when building the statues. If we knew we would have to wrap them one day, we would not have made such huge structures," said a worker.
In 10 memorials and parks across Lucknow, veils are needed for 10 statues of Mayawati and nearly 100 elephants. District magistrate AK Sagar was confident the EC's deadline would be met.
Urgency prevailed all over the Rs 685-crore Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida as bundles of pink plastic sheets landed in tempos for the 50 elephant statues.
"Almost 80% of the work is over. The rest will be done by Wednesday noon," said Arvind Trivedi, general manager of the Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited that built the park.
Plastic sheets had run out on Sunday, so 1,500 metres were ordered as a precaution.
"Fifty workers and various departments are on the job. One cannot quantify the draping material required," said Trivedi said, claiming the budget for the task was within Rs 1 lakh.
According to chief project engineer Santram, "There are two statues of the CM. There are 20 big statues of elephants and 32 others on two fountains. There are 12 elephant statues on the three gates. The 30 pillars have one four-headed elephant bust each."
The pillars will be reached on Wednesday, with the help of cranes.