Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the constitution of a ‘Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission.

Important points:

  • The order by the NGT takes note of the ‘unscientific handling and storage’ of the fly ash by coal thermal power stations.
  • For example, the draining of industrial effluents and fly ash in the Rihand Reservoir.
  • The Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission, besides monitoring the disposal of annual stock of unutilised fly ash, will also see how 1,670 million tonnes of legacy (accumulated) fly ash could be utilized in the least hazardous manner and how all safety measures could be taken by the power plants.
  • The Mission will hold its first meeting within one month to assess the fly ash management situation in coal power plants and to prepare action plans to build road maps for ash utilisation by individual plants.
  • The Mission is to be jointly headed by the secretaries of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Union Ministry of Coal and Power, keeping on board chief secretaries of respective states where the mission is being implemented.
  • The secretary of MoEF&CC will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

Fly Ash Notification 2021 was issued under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

  • Prohibiting dumping and disposal of fly ash discharged from coal or lignite based thermal power plants on land or into water bodies, the Centre has made it mandatory for such plants to ensure 100% utilization of ash in an eco-friendly manner, and introduced for the first time a penalty regime for non-compliance based on ‘polluter pays’ principle.
  • Under new rules, the non-compliant power plants will be imposed with an environmental compensation of Rs 1,000 per tonne on unutilised ash during the end of every financial year.
  • The amount, collected by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) from the thermal power plants, will be used towards the safe disposal of the unutilised ash. It may also be utilised for advancing research on use of ash including ash based products.
  • In cases where fly ash is being used in various activities, power plants will have to deliver fly ash at project sites free of cost.
  • The power plant may, however, charge for ash cost and transportation as per mutually agreed terms, in case it is able to dispose of the ash through other means.
  • The new fly ash notification of December 2021, has made provision for the ‘enforcement, monitoring, audit and reporting’ of the progress of fly ash utilisation and implementation by coal thermal power plants and user agencies.
  • The Notification holds the CPCB and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) / Pollution Control Committees (PCC) responsible for monitoring the effective implementation of mandates under it.
  • However, along with these statutory regulators, the Mission also extends the responsibility of fly ash management to the chief secretaries of the states.
  • The Notification mandates the individual thermal power plant to upload monthly information regarding ash generation and utilisation on its web portal.
  • The Mission as directed by the NGT, on the other hand, will make the roadmaps and progress in fly ash utilisation available for all thermal power plants and their clusters, on the MoEF&CC website on a quarterly basis for the knowledge of all stakeholders.


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