Hyderabad: Thermal power units that are not utilising 100 per cent of the ash they generate as waste have been threatened with closure. NITI Aayog has told the Union power ministry that as per the Environment Protection Act, thermal power plants that do not comply with 100 per cent ash utilisation may be instructed to close down. The ministry of environment and forest has brought out a gazette notification regarding the 100 per cent utilisation of fly ash.
The power ministry has accordingly instructed states to prepare an ash management plan for every thermal power plant to achieve this aim. Fly ash is a major pollutant. If it is dumped instead of being used, it can cause serious pulmonary problems. Thermal power plants must conduct awareness campaigns to encourage the manufacture of ash-based products and use of ash in activities such as construction of roads and manufacture of cement and bricks. Eighty per cent or the country’s electricity is produced by coal-based plants. About 176 million tonnes of fly ash is generated every year, according to the power ministry and little is used.
The utilisation of ash generated by thermal power units in Telangana state is less than the national average. According to the power ministry, about 250 acres of land is required for a 1,000 MW thermal power unit for dumping of ash. TS Genco director (thermal), M. Sachidanandam said that 40 per cent of the ash generated by the power plants is used in Telangana, and more ways of using the ash are being explored.
State governments are not in a position to close down units in case they do not fully use the ash generated because there is a shortage of power. Closing power plants will only worsen the power crisis and make power surplus states deficient too.