Wednesday, 1 July 2020

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment", these lines by Mahatma Gandhi become real when you know more about Deepak Kalankar, Territory Manager, his work in Bhaur Village in Maharashtra. Jay Raval brings to you the story of Deepak.

Back in 2017, Deepak Kalankar had a choice, having a doctorate degree, he could either continue teaching in a college or start a career in the safe drinking water sector which was not known to him. He chose the latter, after three years he doesn't regret leaving teaching career and enjoys being part of the organisation, working as a Territory Manager for Maharashtra.

A native of the village Bhaur, where Sarvajal has put up a safe drinking water facility, Deepak resides closer to the village along with his family. During our chat, Deepak mentioned he being from the village did not participate in the selection of the village for a safe drinking water intervention. The only reason for the village being shortlisted for intervention was that there was a need of Safe drinking water in the village.

Deepak tells that belonging to the village, my familiarity with the local situation helped me create awareness on the benefits of drinking safe water. Since community economic status was good and there was a need for the drinking water, it occurred to them why not spend on drinking water. “Jo log 100-200 rupaye me idhar udhar kharch karte the un logo ke mann me aaya kyu na hum shudh pani ke liye kharch kare?

Due to focused community awareness activities conducted in December 2018, more and more people started adopting Sarvajal water in Bhaur. Deepak saw an opportunity to leverage the same to continue to connect with the community in Bhaur, hence shared video testimonials of satisfied Sarvajal customers with non and infrequent users.

Though the project tenure has ended and the safe drinking water facility has been handed over to the village, Deepak ensured that Sarvajal customers should continue to take water. Last year there was a raw water issue in Bhaur due to drought in Maharashtra and everyone was very concerned about the same. Deepak at his personal cost brought water tankers for two-three months to ensure raw water is available for the plant “Maine soch liya tha jo kuch bhi ho jaye, customer tootne nahi chahiye, logo ko shudh jal milte rehna chahiye”.

This also created a positive effect on the community. “Logo ko yeh samajh mein aa gaya ki yaha par raw water shortage nahi hogi, log hamari machine se paani lena nahi chode”. When Corona infection had begun to rise in the state and the country, Deepak sprung into action, talking to the community about COVID safeguard measures and drinking filtered water to keep themselves healthy.
Deepak requested village community members to not to purchase water from outside the village but take water from Sarvajal plant only and because of the rapport built the community members supported us. The lockdown had its effect on inward migration to the village, but then it increased utilisation of the Sarvajal facility.

He says “Jo log shehero me reh rahe the aur unke ghar vale gaav me the, voh log vapis aa gaye aur ve log hamare plant ka paani peene lage kyonki unko shehar mein filter paani peene ki aadat thi. unki vajah se ghar ke sab logo ne yaha se pani lena shuru kar diya” Deepak through these advocates communicated the message in the village“Itna achha aur saste dam par paani kahi nahi milta toh sabko yahi pani pina chahie”.Since Sarvajal plant is handed over to the Panchayat, they are not giving any new RFID cards to customers but are using one card to provide water from the plant.

He proudly says, “Currently our Sarvajal plant is producing 2000-2500 litres every day, and so reject water tank is overflowing”. In order to avoid water wastage, Deepak has made double pipe connections such that if a person wants to take water from the reject water tank he/she can just shift the cork and get the water easily. And if reject water tank starts overflowing, cork can be readjusted, making water flows underground to a pit where there was a dried hand pump, being used as a recharge pit.

Deepak mentions inhibitions of the community taking water from the plant due to risk of COVID infection. He made extra efforts. “In addition to sanitising the ATM and plant, we have provided soap and water to wash hands in front of the Sarvajal plant, place where reject water tank is located. This small effort made the community happy and showed them that we cared about them”. Deepak’s 2 brothers also work in Sarvajal. “Me, my brothers Sonal and Ganesh visit the village regularly and with the help of Ganesh’s technical know-how, we also tackle operational challenges, if any.

Towards the end of the conversation, Deepak wants this practice of getting reject water tank which he did at his own cost to be replicated in every location to address raw water issue and save water. However, Sarvajal needs people like Deepak just like his name- illuminating, Sarvajal with his endeavours to serve the community with safe drinking water.

The trio brothers - Sonal (Operator), Deepak and Ganesh (Field engineer) in the picture.