Haneshwar Prashad Chandel is a dedicated Operator in the Faecel Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) in Kumhari, Chhattisgarh.
The second of three brothers, Haneshwar attained a B.Sc. in biotechnology from Kalyan College. Due to hardships at home, he had to leave home soon after marriage with his wife. He found work in the sewage lines in Kumhari and worked there for 2 years. Amidst the various people doing site visits during the development of a plant, there was an engineer, working with whom earned Haneshwar the responsibility of Operator at the FSTP. He has now been working as an Operator for 2 years.
Haneshwar’s work involves maintenance of the site, including gardening, pond maintenance, screen chamber maintenance, filtering the sludge, coordination with the FSTP drivers, emptying the trucks and measuring the PH and temperature of the sludge. He also maintains records of the trucks arriving at the plant with details of where they have come from.
Many aspects of his work are difficult. While helmets and masks help protect against poisonous gases such as methane, it is the physical labour involved in jobs such as gardening that become taxing, often leaving him incapacitated for a couple of days. One wonders whether such hardships combined with general taboos cause his family and community to be concerned about his profession. He claims, however, that his community does not look down upon his work and appreciates his profession.
Haneshwar believes that the cleaner one keeps the FSTP, the better the well-being of the workers operating it will be. For him, proper maintenance of the FSTP is the priority and nothing takes precedence over this priority. With his salary, he supports his family of four. He wishes to educate his 2 sons and hopes that they join the family business that he dreams of. With the money him and his wife have saved and with a loan for the rest, they wish to open a tailor’s shop.
Embodying his inspiring values, Haneshwar says that one must do whatever work they’re doing with dedication. He believes that unless you can keep your surroundings clean, nobody else will, and that if you demonstrate hygiene then you can inspire others to follow suit.