MPCB concerned over huge quantity of fly ash

Nagpur: The Maharashtra Polluion Control Board (MPCB) has expressed concerned over the burning of high ash coal which is resulting in huge quantity of fly ash known to be hazardous in nature as it contains radioactive elements, harmful to human beings and environment.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in their notification in 1997-98 had already said that to reduce generation of flyash, only beneficiated coal or blended coal should be used in power plants. Accordingly, the state-run power generation plants were directed to use ash coal or blended coal below 34 percent ash which will help generate less fly ash.

Thermal Power Plants in Bhusawal, Koradi, Nashik and Chandrapur in Maharashtra were bound to use coal below 34 percent ash only, sources close to the Board said.

Coal producing companies in public sector were supplying coal of ash above 45 percent to power plants. This was resulting in huge slippage and monetary losses to the public but also posing threat to human beings.

The MPCB in a communication to RTI activist K N Agnihotri admitted that Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) was consuming coal between 30-40 percent ash and the Environment Ministry guidelines were for not consuming coal above 34 percent ash. The Ministry has powers to invoke bank gurantee of Mahagenco in case of failure to adhere to norms, sources added.

The global standard is consumption of coal below 15 percent to lessen the ill effects of ash generated from burning of coal. The MPCB has virtually admitted that ash contain in coal supplied to Mahagenco varies from approximately 30 to 49 percent ash. It also stated that coal supplied to Mahagenco in from various coal mines depending on the geological formation of the strata and coal quality can be uncertain from the coal analysis submitted by Mahagenco.

The MPCB further said that Mahagenco was supplying fly ash to cement and brick manufacturers. According to MPCB Joint Director (Air Pollution Control) V M Motghare it was imposing penalty and fines against the Mahagenco power plants by forfeiting their bank guarantee.