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Status of Fly Ash Disposal Sites in Eastern India

Fly ash is a waste generated in the process of coal combustion in Coal Fired Thermal Power Plant. This fly ash is generally laden with several heavy metals which are also toxic in nature. Unscientific fly ash disposal causes contamination of water bodies and agriculture, making it a risk to human health. This issue is problematic because exposure to fly ash is known to cause heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, among many other illnesses.

Given the severe risk fly ash poses, our study has mapped and analyzed its disposal across eastern India. The analysis was done using Google Earth and QGIS. We found fly ash dumping sites across the region, near river banks, agricultural fields, and forest areas. It is evident that such dumping has continued in an unplanned and uncontrolled manner. The lack of proper regulations or guidelines on fly ash disposal has led to unabated dumping, posing a grave threat to the environment. Thus, there is an urgent need to issue siting guidelines for fly ash disposal in India.