In order to ensure complete utilization of thermal fly ash from power plants, an expert panel of the Union environment ministry has decided to form a multi-disciplinary committee to examine the possibility of setting up cement plants along with such plants.
It came after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in January 2017 directed the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to examine the feasibility of setting up captive Cement Plants near thermal power plants either by project proponents themselves or by joint venture for effective utilization of fly ash generated from power plants.
The expert committee, during its meeting, noted that cement plants require nearly 70-80% of limestone for manufacturing clinker which is grinded for making cement.
According to surveys, every year, millions of tonnes of fly ash is generated across India and this prompted the MoEFCC in 1999, 2003, 2009 and in 2016 to issue directions for its proper use and disposal, mandating it for use in building material and in construction activities like road building.
As per various studies, only about 50-60% of the total fly ash generated by the power sector is being utilised. In 2015, about 180 million tonnes of fly ash was produced across India and by 2025, it is estimated to reach 300 million tonnes a year. With that, utilization of all the fly ash being generated is going to become tougher.
The unutilized fly ash is dumped into poorly designed and maintained ash ponds and it is estimated that about a billion tonne of this toxic ash lies dumped in these ponds, polluting land, air and water.