- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For prelims: What is fly ash, how is it produced and where it can be used?
For mains: Concerns associated with its contamination, what needs to be done and legislative measures necessary.
Context: The National Green Tribunal has sought a report from the authorities on the current status on disposal and management of fly ash. The report has been sought, following a plea alleging unscientific handling of fly ash generated by a unit of NTPC.
What is Fly Ash?
- 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 metalsfrom 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.
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.