ALMOST A year after the Maharashtra government adopted the Fly Ash Utilisation Policy, it will now give away fly ash for free to industries within 100 km of the power plant. At its first meeting held on Tuesday, the Fly Ash Council, which is chaired by Chief Secretary Sumit Mallick, told the state power generation company Mahagenco to work out the commercials of providing fly ash for free. Fly ash is a by-product of the burning of coal in thermal power plants and is a potential pollutant of air and ground water if not managed properly.
An official from the energy department told The Indian Express that the move was aimed at encouraging cement manufacturers and construction companies to use more fly ash. “It has been observed that industries are discouraged from buying fly ash because of high transportation cost. Giving it away would set off some of the load and encourage more companies to use fly ash,” he said.
Another official said that the decision was almost final. “Mahagenco will give away fly ash for free within 100km of the plant if it is affordable,” he said. Currently small-scale industries get fly ash for free. In December 2016, Maharashtra became the first state to adopt a policy for utilisation of fly ash with an aim to use 100 per cent of the fly ash generated from thermal power plants and biogas plants for construction activities. The Devendra Fadnavis-led government had extended the radius of use from 100km to 300km. Earlier, the use of fly ash was allowed within a 100km of the power plant. The policy was launched to encourage the use of fly ash for making bricks, blocks, tiles, wall panels, cement and other construction materials.
In 2015-16, Maharashtra utilised 69 per cent of the fly ash generated in thermal power plants in the state, according to ASH TRACK, a mobile application of the Ministry of Power that tracks fly ash utilisation. With an installed capacity of 20,976 MW, the state generates 186 lakh metric tonne (LMT) of fly ash during the period, of which 130 LMT is utilised, primarily in making bricks and for construction of highways and flyovers. With the new policy, the state aims to utilise 100 percent of the fly ash generated in power plants.