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Fly ash

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Fly ash


What to study?

  • Static Part: What is fly ash, how is it produced and where it can be used?
  • Dynamic and Current: Concerns associated with its contamination, what needs to be done and legislative measures necessary.

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed penalties of up to ₹5 crore on thermal power plants that have not fully disposed of the fly ash they generated.


Significance and concerns associated with fly ash:

The order is significant because of the high contribution of fly ash to air and water pollution and its impact on crops being grown in villages around these plants.

Fly ash is a major source of PM 2.5 (fine, respirable pollution particles) in summer. It becomes air borne, and gets transported to a radius of 10 to 20 kms. It can settle on water and other surfaces. Fly ash contains heavy metals from coal, a large amount of PM 2.5 and black carbon (BC). Proper disposal of fly ash is still not happening in many places.


What can be done?

Fly ash, the end product of combustion during the process of power generation in the coal based thermal power plants, is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development, etc.

At present, 63% of the fly ash is being utilised and target is for 100% utilisation of the fly ash. There is need for education and awareness generation.

  • Road contractors and construction engineers need to know the benefits of using fly ash in construction.
  • Measures need to be taken to reduce the cost of construction of roads using fly ash by way of tax structure, subsidies and transportation services.
  • Besides, there is a need to prevent the ash from coming to the power plant by washing the coal at its place of origin. The government should also come out with a policy to encourage fly ash use in cement plant.

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: What is fly ash? In the past few years concerns have been raised over its environmental impact from several quarters. What are these concerns? How they can be addressed? Examine.