Indian technology is converting thousands of acres of fly ash dumping ponds to rolling greens, woodland and flower beds, in the process positively changing the properties of the ash, reports Hindu Agri-Business. Fly ash, a waste from thermal power plants, when enriched with a bio-fertiliser (mycorrhiza) not only loses its negative properties but sustains vegetation in a manner that even enriched soils cannot. There are over 65 000 acres of such land available in India, according to the latest estimates.
To develop this technology, the Fly Ash Mission of the Technology, Information and Forecasting Assessment Council, and the Ministry of Science and Technology, partially supported the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI). Mycorrhiza not only takes care of a major environment pollutant, but at the same time makes the whole scenario commercially viable. Thermal power plants in India are reported to spend Rs7 billion ($156 million) annually just to maintain fly ash ponds and the country’s utility stations generate more than 90 million tonnes of fly ash annually. Fly ash use in construction materials and applications in paint have already been identified, but it is the first time fly ash ponds have been considered in terms of floriculture and silviculture. Significantly, species identified by TERI to be grown on fly ash dumps do not fall in the food chain.