LucknowLakhs of tons of undisposed fly ash (which is produced when coal is burnt at the thermal power plants) has become a proverbial albatross around the neck of the UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (UPRVUNL), the government-owned power generating company. The Union ministry of road surface and highways is mounting pressure on UPRVUNL to make the fly ash available to the construction agencies for its use in the construction of roads, dams etc within 300 km radius of the thermal plants where the unutilised fly ash is dumped. But this is not the cause of worry for the UPRVUNL which will, in fact, be more than happy to part with the fly ash even if it has to provide it free of cost to any agency.What really perturbs the corporation is the fact that the ministry has asked it to bear the cost of transportation of the fly ash to the place where it is required to be used in construction of roads, highways etc. The authorities feel that the cash-strapped corporation could not bear this extra burden until and unless it increases the cost of electricity sold to the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) which will finally shift the burden on to the consumers. “As per our calculation the cost of power might go up by 40 paise per unit if the UPRVUNL is forced to make the fly ash available to the road making agencies and bear the transportation cost too,” UPRVUNL director, technical, BS Tiwari said, “This is why we have requested the Central government to revisit notification,” he said, adding “On an average the transportation of the fly ash may cost us Rs 1,700 per ton.”The Centre’s gazette notification of January, 2016, said, “The cost of transportation of ash for road construction projects shall be borne by coal based thermal power plants and the cost of the transportation beyond the radius of 100 km and upto 300 km shall be shared equally between the user and the thermal plant.”The same notification that became effective from January 2018 also asked the state authorities to ensure mandatory use of ash based bricks or other products in all government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Gramin Yojana and also ensure that a MoU is signed between thermal plants and the construction agencies.“Now, with a lot of roads, highways, expressways etc coming up in the Purvanchal, the construction agencies are mounting pressure on UPRVUNL to sign a MoU for the unutilised ash in Sonbhadra region,” sources said.Corporation’s thermal plants together consume around 60,000 tons of coal and produce around 20,000 tons of ash per day. While the corporation is able to dispose of the ash to cement factories at the Parichha and Harduaganj thermal plants, the same is not possible in Obra and Anpara in Sonbhadra as there is no demand for the ash in the region.“We already have 270 acre pond full of more than 7 lakh MT of accumulated undisposed fly ash produced from Anpara and Obra thermal plants that together generate around 11,000 tons of ash every day,” Tiwari said. “The corporation had even made available Rs 35 lakh to the Sonbhadra district administration to set up units for manufacturing ash based bricks in the region to get rid of the undisposed ash. But it will be beyond our means to bear the cost of transporting lakhs of tons of fly ash to construction sites,” he added.Sources said not just the utpadan nigam but all the generators, including the NTPC, who had coal fired plants in Sonbhadra region were facing the same problem.