Sanjay Kedar's journey in the sanitation sector paints an inspiring tale of transformation and progress. Appointed as the Chief Officer of Sinnar Municipal Council in February 2020, he embarked on a mission to tackle the sanitation challenges plaguing the industrial town of Sinnar in Maharashtra.
Sinnar faced multiple sanitation hurdles, making it imperative for the Municipal Council to plan and implement Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) services. With support from (Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology) CEPT University’s Center for Water and Sanitation (CWAS), CEPT Research & Development Foundation (CRDF), this collaborative effort aimed to set a model for other towns and cities without external funds.
Sanjay's visionary leadership focused on scheduled desludging as a public service to achieve ODF++ status. Under this program, every property along a defined route received advanced notifications about desludging, ensuring comprehensive coverage. Sinnar was divided into 3 zones, with each zone's septic tanks slated for desludging over a 3-year cycle. This initiative was implemented through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, leveraging performance-linked annuity contracts between the desludging company and the local government. To sustain the services, a sanitation tax was imposed to secure adequate funds.
Crucially, Sanjay ensured that FSSM services benefitted all sections of society, including low-income families and slum residents. This inclusive approach aimed to provide scheduled desludging services to everyone.
Moreover, Sinnar's Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) was operated by a private entity. Treated wastewater was ingeniously repurposed for landscaping and maintaining an urban forest. Self-Help Group (SHG) members played an active role in daily maintenance, while the FSTP relied solely on solar energy, making it a self-sufficient and eco-friendly plant.
Sanjay's vision created a blueprint for other cities to follow, showcasing that scheduled desludging is not only possible but immensely beneficial. It underlines that small and medium towns possess the potential to offer FSSM as a regular service and reap its rewards.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanjay's leadership took center stage. The safety of sanitation workers was paramount, with the distribution of PPE kits and stringent adherence to health guidelines.
Sanjay's unwavering dedication ensured the continuity of basic sanitation services even during the pandemic. Sanitation workers were issued ID cards and permission letters, hand washing stations were set up near toilets, and the FSTP continued to operate. His leadership ensured that Sinnar's sanitation sector not only thrived but contributed significantly to curbing the virus's impact.
Sanjay Kedar's journey stands as a testament to the power of visionary leadership in transforming sanitation services and serving the community, even in the most challenging times. His forward-thinking approach has set Sinnar on a path of sustainable sanitation and inclusivity.