Ayyaj Tamboli

Sanitation Changemaker

Integrating Healthcare and Urban Development

In the heart of Chhattisgarh beats the story of Dr. Ayyaj Tamboli, an IAS officer with a stethoscope, weaving transformative change across tribal lands. His journey from medicine to administration reveals a tapestry of initiatives spanning healthcare, sanitation, waste management, and environmental conservation. But behind each policy, each intervention, lies his thoughtfulness to seek solutions and put into motion actions that can solve for systemic challenges that communities have faced for years.

A young doctor turned IAS officer, Ayyaj's motivation stemmed from both personal inspiration and a profound desire to serve beyond the confines of a clinic. Motivated by a senior who ventured into civil services, Dr. Ayyaj treads a path that traverses the regions of Bastar and Bijapur, both of which are areas of Naxal dominance. His journey is driven by the resolve to cater not just to a small section of society, but to the larger community at large. Dr. Ayyaj believes in the ethos of 'Kung Fu Panda' - believing in destiny and finding peace in impactful actions.

Dr. Ayyaj Tamboli's innovative approach lies in his fusion of medical expertise with administrative prowess. His pioneering work integrates healthcare and urban development, creating a unique bridge between the two domains. From mobile medical units reaching slum dwellers to the introduction of discounted generic medicines, his initiatives merge healthcare accessibility with urban planning. Additionally, Dr. Tamboli has also extended his focus and work towards environmental preservation, knowing its impact on public health. Within this stream of work, he delved into urban lake policies, focusing on revitalizing water bodies, and steering the state towards being 'Water Plus' which required towns to treat its wastewater successfully. He also pioneered initiatives like bioswales, urban lake policies, and water body regeneration. Ayyaj understood that progress was not just about implementing policies but also fostering community engagement and sustainability.

In the realm of urban sanitation, his focus on lake rejuvenation in Raipur stood out as a pivotal and transformative initiative. His strategy was multifaceted, commencing with the formulation of an Urban Lake Policy. This policy aimed to establish technical guidelines for managing and restoring urban lakes, fostering an interconnected network of water bodies within cities. Owing to this, over 800 acres of new lakes emerged - a tangible achievement in reclaiming valuable water resources. He also orchestrated strategic measures to revive existing water bodies. Implementation of stop dams along urban streams regulated flow and reduced oxygen biological demand. He also spearheaded extensive plantation along these waterways, combating pollution and enhancing ecological equilibrium.

The impact cascaded beyond visual improvements. Groundwater recharge, a critical concern in urban areas facing water stress, experienced a significant boost in Raipur due to these rejuvenation efforts. Techniques such as pond deepening and diversion of pollutants fortified water security, paving the way for sustainable urban water management. Tamboli's approach was steeped in an understanding of the cultural essence of lakes in Chhattisgarh showing the need for local leaders who can take into account local contexts before applying solutions. These water bodies weren't just scenic; they were integral to local life - serving as bathing spots, sources of cattle drinking water, and even supplying potable water. This cultural link fortified the urgency of their restoration. This holistic vision reshaped urban sanitation by integrating cultural significance, environmental preservation, and practical sustainability. Another issue under sanitation was that of open defecation which he tackled through a holistic approach of implementation of individual household latrines and community toilets, coupled with ensuring adequate water availability, recognizing that infrastructure without essential resources like water wouldn't yield desired results.

Another standout initiative spearheaded by Dr. Tamboli is the emphasis on cow dung manure, converting it into compost and making it economically viable for farmers, aligning with the idea of making villages and Nagar Panchayats 'gobar-dhan' enabled. This strategy was driven by the principle of circular economy and ensuring communities are utilizing the waste they generate. He, thus, turned cow dung into a revenue source, making streets dung-free and promoting organic composting. His approach to waste management was innovative, introducing a self-help group-based model for collection, segregation, composting, and selling of non-compostable waste. Cities like Ambikapur became role models in this decentralized waste management, fostering community involvement and employment generation.

Overall, Ayyaj Tamboli's journey in urban sanitation and development reflected a commitment to creating sustainable change, integrating healthcare, waste management, and environmental conservation for the betterment of communities in Chhattisgarh. Most of the solutions he spearheaded can be implemented across geographies if his peers were inspired by his efforts. His story is more than a recollection of achievements - it's a beacon of possibility within public service, a journey intertwined with the lives he touches, the problems he embraces, and the solutions he dares to create.