The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Madhya Pradesh has allowed thermal power plants to sell fly ash/bottom ash/pond ash in open markets but has held that fly ash containing less than 17% of carbon content should be given free of cost to construction industries engaged in brick making or allied activities.
The orders dated December 10, 2015, a copy of which was made available on Wednesday, was pronounced by the principal bench of NGT in a petition filed against NEPA Mills Limited, Burhanpur.
While pronouncing judgment, the bench comprising NGT chairperson and Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice MS Nambiar and expert member DK Agarwal ordered NEPA Mills Limited to upgrade their thermal power plant within six months, so that it can utilize maximum carbon content in coal.
The central government, with its gazette notification dated September 14, 1999, has restricted sale of fly ash to ensure its optimum utilization and protect environment by conserving top soil used for making bricks.
“If the company fails to technologically upgrade its thermal power plant within six months, the company’s CEO/managing director shall be personally responsible for consequences in accordance with law and the plant shall also be liable to be closed,” the bench observed. The company shall also be liable to deposit a sum of Rs 85 crore with MP Pollution Control Board, which shall be used for prevention and control of pollution of environment, the bench added.
NEPA Mills Limited is said to have sold fly ash generated from its thermal power plant at exorbitant prices, although sale of fly ash was prohibited by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change through the notification of 1999.
The notification was also aimed at promoting manufacture of construction material like bricks and tiles near thermal power plants, and made it compulsory for such units to mix at least 25 per cent of fly ash in making bricks.
“But the notification has been widely ignored by many thermal power plants across the country,” said petitioner’s counsel Manoj Kumar Agarwal, adding that NEPA Mills has earned over Rs 60 crore by selling fly ash.