Orissa: Road map to dispose of fly ash

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BHUBANESWAR:   The Odisha Government on Monday embarked on a road map to tackle the growing challenge of fly ash generation in the State. With more power plants planned in the years to come and coal extraction set to witness a multi-fold rise, it has asked the Revenue Department as well as the district collectors to make a list of quarry voids for disposal of the fly ash.

At present, the State generates about 22 million tonne of fly ash, but as per the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) guidelines, all fly ash must be utilised or disposed of by the fifth year. At the current rate, just about half the fly ash is utilised in the State.

To improve the utilisation rate, the Government has already attempted to use mine voids and at certain places quarry voids, but the endeavour has not really caught up although best practices suggest that the performance could be raised.

In Jajpur district, the Police Parade Ground was created on a quarry void and a Saraswati Sishu Mandir School too has been built on a similar place. The Government is keen on replicating the success stories in other districts. Keeping it in mind, the Revenue Department was asked on Monday to coordinate with the districts and prepare an inventory of quarry voids so that the ash could be transported with part funding from the generators.

A high-level meeting, which was chaired by Chief Secretary BK Patnaik on Monday, directed that coal companies could identify more mine voids for use by corporates which generate large volumes of fly ash. As of now, four mine voids of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited have been granted in favour of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Bhushan Industries and Nalco. The PSU NTPC has been sanctioned two voids in Kaniha and Talcher.

“If these corporates use the mine voids to the full capacity, they can attain 100 per cent utilisation for at least eight to 10 years,” said sources. The corporates have to construct pipelines for transporting the ash in slurry form to the voids which requires time. Nalco is currently working on lean ash slurry pipeline to evacuate its generation in a void at Bharatpur.

While the low rate of utilisation remains a concern, the projection is scary. The State Government has signed a number of MoUs for setting up thermal power plants which could take the volume of coal extraction to 200 million tonne a year by 2017. Considering that all the projects will go on stream, the State could end up generating about 100 million tonne fly ash in the next five years and that would pose a major problem if utilisation rate is not improved.

Currently, the use of fly ash by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in its road projects has been entangled in a court case.

(The New Indian Express)

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