The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in their notification in 1997-98 had already said that to reduce generation of fly ash, only beneficiated coal or blended coal should be used in power plants. Accordingly, the state-run power generation plants were directed to use ash coal or blended coal below 34 per cent ash which will help generate less fly ash.
The thermal power plants in Bhusawal, Koradi, Nashik and Chandrapur in Maharashtra were bound to use coal below 34 per cent ash only, sources close to the Board said.
Coal producing companies in public sector were supplying coal of ash above 45 per cent to power plants. This was resulting in huge slippage and monetary losses to the public but also posing threat to human beings.
The MPCB in a communication to RTI activist K N Agnihotri admitted that the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) was consuming coal between 30-40 per cent ash. The Ministry has powers to invoke bank gurantee of the Mahagenco in case of failure to adhere to norms, sources added.
The MPCB further said that Mahagenco was supplying fly ash to cement and brick manufacturers. According to the MPCB Joint Director (Air Pollution Control) V M Motghare, it was imposing penalty and fines against the Mahagenco power plants by forfeiting their bank guarantee.
The global standard is consumption of coal below 15 per cent to lessen the ill effects of ash generated from burning of coal. The MPCB has virtually admitted that ash contain in coal supplied to Mahagenco varies from approximately 30 to 49 percent ash. It also stated that coal supplied to Mahagenco in from various coal mines depending on the geological formation of the strata and coal quality can be uncertain from the coal analysis submitted by the board.