On January 1, 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of India issued a Notification (S.O. 5481 (E).) providing for disposal responsibilities and utilization of ash in coal or lignite based thermal power plants. The provisions require thermal power plants to utilize 100% of ash, and the ash must be used in an eco-friendly manner for specified purposes such as the manufacture of cement and building materials. In addition, unutilized accumulated ash (legacy ash) stored before the publication of this Notification must also be fully utilized within 10 years, and if this is not achieved, environmental compensation will be imposed based on the quantity. The government authority monitors ash utilization on a quarterly basis, and thermal power plants are required to upload monthly information on the generation and utilization of ash on the portal by the 5th of the following month.
Responsibilities of thermal power plants in the disposal of fly ash and bottom ash
- All coal or lignite based thermal power plants shall be responsible for utilizing 100% of ash generated by their power plants in an eco-friendly manner for the following purposes (excerpt).
- Ash based products (such as bricks, tiles, pipes, and panels)
- Cement manufacturing, ready mix concrete
- Ash and Geo-polymer based construction material
- Export of ash to other countries
- Thermal power plants are responsible for utilizing 100% of ash generated in a given year, however, in no case may the utilization rate fall below 80% and must achieve an average ash utilization rate of 100% in a three years cycle. Note that for the first applicable three years cycle, there are mitigation measures as shown in the table below (effective from April 1, 2022).
|Ash utilization rate of thermal power plants||First compliance cycle||Next and subsequent compliance cycles|
|More than 80 %||
|60 to 80 %||
|Less than 60%||
- Legacy ash stored before the publication of this Notification shall be utilized progressively as shown in the table below, and utilization shall be completed within 10 years from the date of publication (effective from April 1, 2022).
|Year from the date of publication||1st year||2nd year||3rd to 10th year|
|Utilization of legacy ash||At least 20%||At least 35%||At least 50%|
*The above percentages shall be calculated based on the annual amount of ash generated in accordance with the installed capacity of thermal power plants.
- Thermal power plants shall submit a report (Ash Compliance Report) to the concerned State Pollution Control Board by May 31 which explains that loading, unloading, transport, storage, and disposal of ash is done in an eco-friendly manner and that precautions to prevent air and water pollution are taken (see Annexure attached to the Notification for the format of the report).
- Thermal power plants shall install dedicated silos capable of storing at least the amount of ash generated in a 16-hour period based on the capacity of the facility and shall be inspected by the authority from time to time.
Environmental compensation for non-compliance
- In the first two years of the three years cycle, if the utilization rate of ash is less than 80%, an environmental compensation of 1000 rupees (about 1500 yen) per ton of unutilized ash will be imposed. If the ash utilization rate of 100% is not achieved in the third year and no environmental compensation has been imposed before that year, an environmental compensation of 1000 rupees per ton of unutilized ash will be imposed.
- For legacy ash stored before the publication of this Notification, an environmental compensation of 1000 rupees per ton of unutilized ash will be imposed for failure to achieve the specified utilization rate.
Enforcement, monitoring, audit, and reporting
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Board shall monitor the utilization of ash on quarterly basis. CPCB shall develop a portal to implement the regulations within six months of the date of publication of this Notification.
- Thermal power plants shall upload monthly information on the generation and utilization of ash on the portal by the 5th of the following month.
- The compliance audit for ash disposal by thermal power plants and user agencies shall be conducted by auditors authorized by CPCB, and audit report shall be submitted to CPCB and concerned State Pollution Control Board by November 30th of each year. Action against non-compliance shall be initiated within 15 days of receipt of the audit report.
Other provisions include supplemental regulations for the intended use of ash and procedures for the supply of ash or ash based products.
The Notification can be downloaded from the following URL (in Hindi and English).