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Bio-reclamation of coal mining subsided lands/abandoned open cast

mines vis-à-vis utilization of coal ash.

Dr. Biswajit Paul*
Scientist CMRI, Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India, 826001
E-mail Address: dr_bpaul@yahoo.com


Huge amount of coal-ash is being generated from coal based thermal power plants. Many researchers have carried the study of
different aspects of coal-ash and its utilization. Only little of it is being utilized in different ways. Although coal-ash contains traces of
toxic elements and heavy metals but due to having some macro and micro nutrients in it and its physical characteristics it can be used as
soil amendments and soil conditioner. Toxic effect of coal-ash is found to be insignificant and concentration of toxic elements is found to
be within permissible limit on utilization in some plantation work in many places in India. Coal-ash can be applied with good earth for
plantation work in waste or degraded land. The ash can also be used as a good and cheap filling material to cover abandoned mines (in
open-cast and also in underground mines as well), which will not only reclaim the land but also add value and improve the aesthetic
splendor. On proper planning the ground water regime can also be improved to some extent.
Electricity has become an integral part of our day-to-day life without which our modern society cannot dream of a single minute. Out
of total global power demand, coal based thermal power is meeting about 2/3rd of the total requirement. In India about 80% of the total
energy demand is meeting by coal alone. Low grade, high ash content coal are being used for generation of power resulting production of
huge quantity of fly-ash and bottom ash, which amount is at present 100 million ton and which is estimated to exceed 150 million ton in
coming 2010AD. Thus generation of huge quantity of coal-ash posses a multiple environmental and other serious problems besides
occupying large areas of land for its storage and disposal.
Although there are many ways to consume the ash generated from thermal power plants but the steps taken in this direction is meager.
This paper deals with utilization of coal-ash to reclaim mining degraded land as well as abandoned open cast mines. The land below
which there are mines, the surface gets infested with subsidence cracks and turns sterile as the water table gets lowered due to pumping
done to carry out mining from the underground coal seams. Again this area becomes infertile when the coal ash is dumped from the
captive power plants nearby, over the land. These subsided lands and the ash dumps need to be reclaimed. How these lands were turned
into cultivable fields or into amusement park are highlighted in this paper. The latest legislation regarding mine closure plan in India is
also taken into consideration.

Key words: aquifer, flyash, mine-fill, thermal, power, plants, coal, ash, stratification, utilization, mine closure.


Coal is the main source of commercial energy in India. The thermal power plants (TPPs) use coal and lignite as a fuel. The maximum
portion of India’s coal reserve is of low quality with high ash content and low calorific value. So, the high-grade metallurgical coals
can no longer economically and justifiably be used for TPPs, as lower grade (with higher ash percentage) coals would suffice for
steam generation in the boilers. As the low-grade coals are used for TPPs, the generation of ash in the form of fly ash and bottom ash
has become alarmingly high.

In the present scenario the generation of coal-ash in India is around 110 MT (88 MT Fly-ash and 22MT bottom ash) from 85 TPPs.
This gargantuan quantity of fly-ash poses a multitude of problems, the most important ones being environmental i.e chances of air
pollution and requirement of large areas of land for its storage, in the form of dumps and ponds. These fly-ash ponds/dumps are
usually eye-sore because of their ugly looks, uneven topography and bereft of vegetation.
Now the imperative need is to find out ways and means for safe disposal and gainful bulk utilisation of fly-ash. Even though serious
efforts are being made for these and a number of technologies developed, hardly 4-5% of fly-ash generated in India is being currently
used. Notwithstanding this dismal scenario, using fly-ash for agriculture, land-fill or to provide a green cover over the fly-ash ponds
does seem to be a potential area where bulk utilization and safe use of fly-ash is possible.

In Jharia Coalfield, India there are about 65 underground coal mines. Most of these mine belong to the government subsidiaries. The
only private sector collieries of the Tata Iron and Steel Companies’ (TISCO) in Jamadoba area of Jharia Coalfield (JCF) are having
only six coal mines to cater to its steel plant in Jamshedpur. High-grade metallurgical coking coal was sent for steel making and the
middling were also sent there for generation of power for the factory and the township. Thus the actual mining area was left with only
huge dumps of washery rejects. Problems aroused when the nearby land became scanty due to increasing population/habitation. The
TISCO management then decided to construct a 10MW capacity thermal power plant of fluidized bed combustion to consume all the
washery rejects. This rejects was having more than 40% ash. After few years of power generation as the volume of washery dumps
were reduced considerably, the ash-dumps and ponds were becoming alarmingly large and difficult to manage. In addition to the fact
that many old underground mining areas in JCF were subsiding due to voids created after extraction of coal, forming unusable
depressed land above. Both these two problems are having constantly increasing magnitude thus aggravating the situation and same is
the case with other mines that belong to the government subsidiaries in this coalfield.


Considering the future menace the management of these private coal mines decided to find some ways and means to utilize the ash-
dumps. As per some survey conducted, it was found that coal-ash can be used for several purposes as provided in the Table:1 ( Paul,
2001). Even though serious and concerted efforts are being made and a number of technologies have been developed for the
utilization of coal-ash for different purposes, only a meager quantity of fly-ash generated is being currently utilized in India as said
earlier. Even though used in very small amount there are many problems of the above-mentioned fly-ash utilization, those are as

• Quality of ash: Variation of quality due to different origin of coal and different burning conditions leads to variation in
quality and standard of products.
• Disposal system: Wet disposal system is the most convenient and cheap method but it deteriorates the ash quality. Whereas
dry disposal system is very costly and results high suspended particulate matters in air.
• Transportation system: Location of power plants being away from consumption centers, this makes fly-ash products more
• Technology: Lack of appropriate technology for ash based products to make it economically competitive.
• Coordination: Lack of direct coordination and interaction between manufacturers of ash based products and ash generating
station. Non-existence of any link between thermal power plants and research institutions.
• Awareness about products: Inadequate awareness about the ash based products and lack of promotional measures.
• Government legislation: Non-availability of any subsidy, tax concession, etc. for new ash-based products.
• Marketing organization: Non-availability of separate marketing organization to promote utilization.

In spite of this gloomy scenario, the author found that using the coal-ash from the ash ponds for agriculture/soil mix, mine fills, land
reclamation or to provide a green cover over the ash ponds does seem to be some potential areas where bulk and safe uses of coal-ash
are possible. The TISCO management was also convinced about this kind of ash-utilization.


In the above background an effort was made to formulate a research project with the following objectives.

 Primary

 To find out a technology for reclaiming the continuously growing land-depressions due to mining activities in
TISCO’s Jamadoba area of Jharia Coal Field.
 To fill up the subsidence cracks so that rain water as well as the water from the flooded streams do not percolate to the
underground working.
 To find out a technology for bulk utilization of fly-ash.

 Secondary

 To find out a technology for growing useful plants in the areas where fly-ash slurry is disposed.
 To provide a green canopy/cover over the existing apparently sterile lands/fly-ash ponds & dumps which are eye-sore
to the landscape.
 Utilization of pumped out mine water for irrigation.
 Characterisation of the fly-ash material.


To tackle the problem and hence to meet the above objectives the work-plan (Figure:1) was chalked out and followed systematically
one after another.


Pot, laboratory, pilot plots and field experiments were conducted with fly-ash from TPP of TISCO Jamadoba along with its various
amendments (with soil, cow-dung compost and green-mulch) to study feasibility of germination and growing of useful greenery on
these fly-ash, to have ideas about suitable amendment of fly-ash and species suitability for this purpose and also to find out the
techno-economically feasible procedure of filling land depressions with fly-ash that may be greened by plantation activities to reduce
dust problem (Paul, 2001). There was no use of chemical fertilizers in these experiments.

Detailing the site problem

In the present study an attempt has been made to tackle a continuously increasing twin problem of TISCO Jharia Division area. The
twin components of the problem are explained in the following paragraphs.

The ash production of the 10MW power house is in the tune of 400 T/day. The ratio of fly-ash is to bottom ash is 80:20 so the fly-ash
production is about 320T/day and bottom-ash production is about 80 T/day. The bottom-ash being coarse was totally used for mine
filling. About 120 T/day of the fly-ash produced was used for underground mine stowing/filling. Out of the total fly-ash produced per
day by 10 MW power plant of TISCO Jamadoba about 200 T/day is remaining unused, which by present disposal methods are
generating 1.5 ha of barren land per year (Table. 2).

The open spaces created at underground by coal mining were inviting subsidence resulting depressed lands on the surface. Already
the TISCO Jharia Division area was having 2957ha of such land depressions, which were expected to increase in future. There were
other types of land depressions also making the lands unsuitable for any use. Another problem aroused that small portion of the
pumped out mine water was used for drinking and other household purpose but the remaining amount had to be drained to the nearby
river Damodar. This mine water could not be utilized for agriculture in the nearby-depressed subsided land as it increases water
seepage inside the mine workings. Thus there was wastage of usable water a valuable resource – one more burning problem.

In order to develop a new methodology to tackle the above said problems a series of experiments were conducted with the fly-ash
ponds (after characterisation of the fly-ash of the area), dumps in the area and the existing land depressions. The findings from the
experiments are as detailed briefly latter.

Characterisation of fly-ash ponds

The author have conducted a series of laboratory analysis that revealed that though fresh fly-ash from Fluidized Bed Combustion
(FBC) boilers does not contain micro life or sufficient soil nitrogen required for plant growth and survival, after about six months it
starts improving its quality with respect to such components by nature’s care, biological invasion, weeding etc. In Table 3 and 4
(Paul, 2001) the average values of parameters obtained from different samples of fly-ash dumps from TISCO, Jamadoba and soil
samples from the surrounding area, are provided. It revealed from the experiments done afterwards that if some plantation were done
on the fly-ash dumps with slight aftercare the quality improves rapidly due to addition of tree litters, nitrogen fixation etc. It was also
observed that immediate improvement could be brought by various amendments with soil, cow-dung compost or green-mulch which
are cheaply and easily available in the nature nearby. Most notably it was observed that in later years such amended fly-ash gets ready
to support useful greenery, sometimes even better than the local soil.

Preparation of an artificial aquifer

To water the plantations done on the fly-ash reclaimed land was a problem due to scarcity. Moreover the water pumped out from
mines could not be used for irrigation purpose as these might lead to increase in water seepage in underground panels. It was found
that in stratified layers of soil the water percolation reduced to a great extent. An idea of development of an artificial aquifer was
conceived for water supply arrangement to the plantation activities. In the present invention (figure 2) there is provided a process for
making an artificial aquifer over a land (1) damaged by mining activities which comprises of several overlying pre-calculated layers
of different thickness made out of fly-ash (2,4,8) mine waste rocks (6), green mulch (5,7,9), locally available soil and fine clay (3)
wherein the stratified individual layers are made out of different granular size to check the downward movement of water. Therefore,
these layers act as moisture barrier until a relatively high moisture level is built up which gives a much higher field moisture level
than that normally is encountered in freely drained soils (Brady, 1984).

An abandoned depressed land with subsidence crack (1) of controllable size {30m x 4m x 2m (l X w X d)} was selected with a
purpose to generate an artificial aquifer in it (Figure 2). The plot was prepared by the activities listed below.
a) An impermeable layer (of 10cm thickness) was made at its base by spreading clay (3) or any cementing material
covering it with fly-ash (10cm) (4) and then compacting with heavy rollers. The side-walls were also artificially made
impermeable by putting clays.
b) Impermeability was tested by pouring water on it, which was found standing on this layer for several hours, latter it
was also tested in laboratory.
c) This clay layer was then covered with grass mulch (5cm thick) (5) to make a spongy/cushion cover on it, so that it
does not get damaged by the stone debris and mine waste(6) poured on it.
d) The experimental depression (1) was then filled up by debris, boulders and stony materials (6) as available from
nearby (coal washery rejects), upto a designed depth (1.4m) as calculated next (under the heading “design of aquifer”)
and then dozed to level it.
e) A layer of green mulch (about 10cm) (7) was spread on it (6) and then fly-ash (30cm) (8) was layered over the debris
and leveled, the two layers together will prevent evaporation.
f) Then again a thin layer (about 5cm) of minced green mulch (9) was spread and covered over the fly-ash layer to
improve fertility, help preventing evaporation of water from the aquifer as well as help prevention of fly-ash being air-
borne. Thus the plot was ready for plantation/sowing. The surrounding part of the depression was heightened in the
order of about (15cm) to prevent runoff of rain/irrigation water.
Figure 3 depicts the use of these aquifers (11) over a large area of mining subsided land (10) in which maximum bulk fill was done by
coal-ash (12). After this bulk – filling the aquifers (11) were prepared over it to make up with the surrounding high level lands (13)
to give an even look.

Design of the aquifer

Based upon the past rainfall data (1378 mm/annum average) at the site, the volume of rain-water expected to fall on the
depression was calculated as 1.378x 30(l) x 4(w) = 165.36 m 3. It was decided to percolate this rainwater in this artificial aquifer. So
the aquifer has to be designed in such a manner that it can accommodate the rainwater likely to fall on its surface. The characteristics
of the debris material used to prepare the artificial aquifer and calculation of the water content of the aquifer artificially prepared are
given in Table 5 and 6 respectively. The calculation steps done to design the aquifer are given below.
Let the depth of the aquifer be ‘d’ meter ( it is the actual depth of the debris material where the water is assumed to be
stored in the pores for a certain time.
⇒ (i) Volume of the aquifer will be 30 X 4 X d m3.
= 120d m3.
⇒ (ii) Weight of the debris required to fill this volume = density X volume
= 2.4 T/ m3 X 120d m3 = 288d Tonne. (Density of the debris material was 2.4 T/m3.
⇒ (iii) Volume of water that can be accommodated in pores of this debris material = weight X field capacity = 288d X 30.1% =
86.69d m3 (considering the density of water as 1 T/m3).
⇒ (iv) Volume of water that can be accommodated in inter-spaces of the debris material = 120d X 0.27 = 32.4d m 3 ( ref. Sl.no 6 of
Table 5.).
⇒ (v) Adding findings of step (iii) and (iv)
= 86.69d + 32.4d (total water that can be accommodated in the depression) = 165.36 m 3 (total rainfall on the surface of the
⇒ 119.09d = 165.36 m3 i.e., the total rain likely to fall over this pilot aquifer during the year.
⇒ d = 1.39m ≈ 1.4m approximately ( = design depth of the debris material in the aquifer )

Some quantity of this rainwater may be lost as runoff water and in form of evapo-transpiration from plants. The total activities for
preparation of this artificial aquifer have been shown in Figures 2 and 3. The basic purpose of the above listed activities for preparing
this self storing type plot was with the concept that, the water stored above the artificial impermeable layer (as detailed in steps 1 & 2
of plot preparation) would supply water in summer time to long rooted plants (forestry species) standing on this plot. Moreover due to
various kinds of stratification (layering) made through the process, the rate of downward movement of water was reduced
considerably (Gardner, et. al., 1921). The layers act as moisture barrier until a relatively high level is built up. This gives a much
higher field moisture level than that normally encountered in freely drained soil. Reality of this concept was tested and noted to hold
good during aftercare. This method helped in reducing the fly-ash being air-borne. The mine water, which was drained off to the
nearby river earlier, was also utilized to water these aquifers.
Location of thermal power plants (TPPs)
The TPPs, which use high ash coal as prime raw material, are the main source of ash production. Therefore these plants
should be strategically located near to the coal mines so that the coal ash produced can be send to the mines for back filling. The
mines will also be highly benefited by this, as sand the prime mine fill material is becoming scarce day by day. Moreover the mines
consume large number of bricks for ventilation/fire stoppings and other construction works in underground. Only ash bricks should
be used for this purpose.

Location of consumer industry

The cement industry can be considered one of the important consumer of the lighter component of the coal ash i.e., fly-ash.
Therefore there should be cheap transportation facility between the cement plants and the TPPs.

Mandatory use of ash bricks as a building material

The conventional brick kilns of the country should be banned as these use topsoil as brick making material. The topsoil
lying mainly between 15-30cm from the surface has taken millions of year for its formation to become suitable for agriculture. This
precious topsoil is getting destroyed due to brick making. All the government buildings/constructions should be made up of ash brick
to set an example for the public. This will increase the awareness of the general mass. The ash bricks are three times stronger than the
conventional bricks and less prone to dampness/water seepage. Moreover due to smooth surface the quantity of cement plaster
required will be reduced considerably.

Government aid
The Government should subsidize ash products, provide tax concession, etc. for new ash-based products so that
entrepreneurs can come forward with encouragement.

Another way to reduce the dumping of coal-ash is to charge levy on land-fills. One example may be quoted from
environment legislation & policy of British Geological Survey that ‘Landfill Tax’ was introduced on 1 October 1996 in UK as a tax
on waste disposal at landfill sites. The purpose of the tax is to encourage business and consumers to produce less waste, to discourage
landfill and encourage waste minimization and investment in other forms of material recycling and/or resource recovery. The policy
clarifies the matter by the following statements.
There are currently two rates of tax:
• £2/tonne for inactive or inert waste listed in the Landfill Tax (Qualifying Material) Order 1996(UK). These are wastes,
which do not give rise to gases and have not potential for polluting groundwater.
• £13/tonne applying to all other taxable waste, subject to an escalator of £1/tonne a year up until 2004.

Exemptions include inert wastes used in restoring mineral and landfill sites.


A recent Mineral Concession (Amendment) Rules, 2003 for Indian Mines provides the rule for mine closure plan. It quotes
as follows:-

“29A. Provision for closure. - (1) The lessee shall not determine the lease or part thereof unless a final mine closure plan duly
approved by the Regional Controller or the officer authorized by the State Government in this behalf, as the case may be, is
implemented as per the approval.
(2) For the purposes of sub-rule (1), the lessee shall be required to obtain a certificate from the Regional Controller of Mines or
officer authorized by the State Government in this behalf, as the case may be, to the effect that protective, reclamation and
rehabilitation work in accordance with the approved mine closure plan or with such modifications as approved by the competent
authority have been carried out by the lessee.”

Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India has also issued a notification on 27 th August 2003 regarding utilization of
the coal-ash from the thermal power plants. It quotes in the amendment paragraph 2(7) that “ No agency, person or organization shall
within a radius of 100 kilometers of a coal or lignite based thermal power plant allow reclamation and compaction of low-lying areas
with soil.”
Here the scope of using coal ash for the above purpose gets substantial importance.


There are many thermal plants where transportation of the ash dumps to the mine site is not possible from economical point of view
but there are lands to dump the ash. These dumps remain sterile for years and therefore these needs to be re-vegetated. One more
problems may arise in some open cast mines with respect to availability of filling materials during its closure. Coal-ash from nearby
TPPs might be of immense help in filling up the mined out area. Here another problems may arise where the low lands or the
abandoned mines which are filled by coal ash becomes bereft of vegetation. These lands have to be reclaimed with aesthetic point of
view. Moreover additional benefits may be derived in form of some economic out put if some agriculture in the reclaimed land is
initiated or development of entertainment/amusement parks. However the best possible solution for maximum utilization of coal-ash
(mainly pond ash) is to reclaim the lands degraded by mining activities (Saxena, 1994; Singh 1988; 1989; 1990; 1995).


The local names with botanical names of the species, which showed good results, are given in the list below in Table 7. The plant
growth studies were done over the experimental plots having various amendments of coal-ash, locally available soil, cow-dung
compost and green mulch (Paul, 2001; Ghosh, et. al., 1994-96; 1998; 2000). The results obtained from the experiments is beyond the
scope of this paper but all these plants showed good results and improved the soil condition each year due to plantation. Some
artificial aquifers as designed above were developed over the reclaimed site where minimum watering was required during summer.
As these aquifers decelerate the rate of water percolation in deeper levels underground therefore irrigation is also possible over the
mining subsided land in a controlled manner, over these aquifers. Therefore now this mined out water that had to be drained into the
near by river earlier, are being utilized to irrigate the reclaimed land. Beautiful amusement parks were developed on these reclaimed
lands, which are now sources of entertainment for the residents nearby the mining area. Some reclaimed dump was afforested by
forest species, which created a green canopy preventing fly-ash getting air–borne. An overall improvement was brought on the
mining land, which enhanced the aesthetic beauty of the region.


From the total study and the findings from those the following recommendations are being forwarded.
• All unwanted land depressions in mining area, specially those generated by subsidence and abandoned opencast mines which are
existing presently and will generate in future should be reclaimed after filling with coal-ash and other mine wastes in layers. This
will also use-up huge amount of ash together with some hard solid waste.
• The upper layer of the plots prepared over the filled area should be amended and made suitable for plantation. An addition of
local soil (3.5cm layer) or using the preserved topsoil along with cow-dung compost and green-mulch or both may be used for
fast reclamation.
• On plots prepared plantation/sowing should be done using local species (existing within 10 km radius) of different types of
greenery i.e. forestry plants, grasses, fruit trees, food crops and vegetables.

However, if any individual feels afraid of taking food items grown on ash ponds then these crops should be tested for heavy
metal/toxic element uptake other wise only forestry species can be grown safely.

The author who is a mining engineer was engaged in coal production activities from deep coal mines in TISCO during 1994 – 2001
executed the above-mentioned work along with some environmentalists of the company. This commendable work has been praised
nation wide and has been a source of inspiration to other mining companies of the country. Thus while exploiting the natural
resources it should be kept in mind that it is the responsibility of those operating personals/technocrats who are engaged to extract
minerals from the mother earth to ensure that a sustainable development of the mining region takes place. This development does not
cost much if planned in the pre-mining stages, instead it helps in better extraction of minerals. Mining companies must give a think
on this aspect that the same material, which behaves as waste at an unwanted place, works as a wealth if placed at a suitable place


The views expressed in this paper exclusively are of the author and not necessarily of the organization to which he belongs. The
author is grateful to Dr.Amalendu Sinha, Sri Subir Kumar Gupta, Mrs.K.Ghosh all eminent scientists of CMRI for giving him
inspiration to write this paper. The author is also obliged to Mr.R.S.Singh General Manager TISCO Collieries, Jharia , Prof. Gurdeep
Singh, Prof.N.C.Saxena and Dr.(Mrs) R. Ghosh of Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India who provided all the help to conduct
these experiments. The author is also highly indebted to Dr. C. Bandyopadhyay, Director, CMRI for permitting the publication and
presentation of this paper.


Brady, N.C., 1984. “The nature and properties of soils,” Macmillan Publishing Co. p. 94 - 95.

Gardner, W., and J.A. Widtsoe.1921.“The movement of soil moisture, ” Soil Sci.,11:230
Ghosh, R., Saxena, N. C., Sinha, T. K. and Chatterjee, D. S., (1994-96), Pilot investigation into the utilization of land degraded due to
coal washery discharges, Unpublished report, Center of Mining Environment, ISM, Dhanbad, p - 7.

Ghosh, R., Sinha, T.K. and Saxena, N.C., (1998), Environmental issues of disposal of waste from thermal power plants, Proc. 7 th Nat.
Symposium on Env. ISM., Dhanbad. pp 219-223.

Ghosh, R., Sinha, T.K. and Saxena, N.C., (2000), Bulk utilization of fly-ash. Jour., IAEM., Vol. 27, pp 252-254.

Larson, Merlyn. M., David, A., Kost and John, P., Vimmerstedt,(1995), Establishment of trees on mine soils during drougth and wet
years. Int. Jr. Surface Recl. and Env . 9 (1995) pp. 98 - 104.

Paul, B., 2001. “Investigation into utilization of fly-ash in economic management of mining degraded land with special reference to
TISCO lease hold area in Jharia Coalfield ,” PhD Thesis, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India

Saxena, N. C., (1994), Issues in land use planning in coal mining area, 2 nd National Seminar on Mining & Ecology, ISM, Dhanbad,
Oxford and IBH Publishing Co (P) Ltd., New Delhi , pp. 201 - 207.

Singh, G. (1988), Report on Utilization of fly-ash in agriculture, CFRI Report No. TR/CFRI / 2 .05 / 88, CFRI , Dhanbad(Bihar),

Singh, G., (1989), Potentiality of fly-ash in augmenting the physico-chemical properties of sandy soil for improved crop production ,
Proc. International Symposium on Managing Sandy Soil, CAZRI, Jodhpur, India.

Singh, G., (1990), Utilization of fly-ash in agriculture, Proc. National Seminar on Status and Prospects of Agro-based Industries in
Eastern India, IIT, Kharagpur (India)

Singh, G., (Jan.1995), Potential uses of fly-ash in agriculture sector , Proc. Workshop on Fly-ash utilization, Regional Research
laboratory, Bhopal (India).

Trehan, K. B., (1995), Endeavor towards better environment in TISCO’s collieries division, Jharia , First world mining environment
congress, New Delhi, India.

Trehan, K. B., (1995), Power from waste - A step towards cleaner environment, TATA STEEL , First world mining environment
congress, New Delhi, India.











Figure 1. Work plan on case to case basis

7 8


5 2


Figure 2. Different layering of waste material for preparation of an artificial

aquifer (the process has been filed for patent in India)


10 12

Figure 3. Several aquifers prepared over ash-filled low lying subsided lands
Low value utilization Medium value utilization High value utilization
Sl No
1 Mine fills / Embankments. Portland cement clinker. Extraction of Alumina.
2 Use in road constructions. Portland pozzolana cement. Extraction of Magnetite.
3 Lime fly-ash stabilised soil. Masonry cement. Extraction of Cenospheres.
4 Lime fly-ash concrete. Oil well cement. Floor and Wall tiles.
5 Lime cement fly-ash concrete. Fly-ash building bricks. Acid resistant bricks.
6 Lime fly-ash bound macadam. Fly-ash blocks. Insulation and semi insulating bricks.
7 Cement fly-ash concrete. Precast fly-ash building units. Fly-ash building distemper.
8 Reinforced fly-ash cement concrete Lime fly-ash cellular concrete. Domestic cleansing powder.
9 Partial replacement of cement in mortars Cement fly-ash concrete & ready mixed Soil amendment agent.
and mass concrete fly-ash concrete.
10 Fly-ash in grouting. Sintered fly-ash lightweight aggregate
and concrete.
Table 1: Different methods for utilization of coal – ash (Paul, 2001)

Ash production of the 10 mw power house 400 T/DAY

Fly-ash : bottom-ash ratio
80 : 20
Fly-ash production 320 T/DAY
Bottom-ash production 80 T/DAY
Fly-ash used for stowing
120 T/DAY
(Fly-ash: sand) ratio for stowing 20 : 80
Unutilised fly-ash 200 T/DAY
Land required to dump the unutilised fly-ash per year 1.5 ha/Year
Land depressions (Jamadoba and Sijua group) 2957 ha
Depressed lands which are proposed to be filled by fly-ash 2957 ha
Table 2. Detailing the problems (Paul, 2001; Trehan, 1995)

Sl.no Parameter Values obtained

Fly-ash Local soil
a) +72 Mesh B.S 2.42 Coarser
b) -72 +100 4.51 and doesn’t
c) -100 +200 5.72 come in this
d) -200 +300 45.42 range of
e) -300 41.93 mesh size
2.) Sp.gravity 1.96 2.31
3.) Bulk density (g/cc) 0.91 1.59
4.) Hyd . Cond ( cm / hr ) 4.60 0.40
5.) Max . Water holding 71 43
6.) Colour Grey Light brown
7.) Lime reactivity Kg / cm2 39.50
8.) Moisture ( % ) 0.70 1.79
Table : 3. Physical analysis of fly-ash and local soils from TISCO
Jamadoba. (Paul, 2001)
1 LOI ( %) 9.01 2.58
2 SiO2 ( %) 60.08 77.43
3 Al2 O3 ( %) 19.81 8.83
4 Fe2 O3 ( %) 4.01 4.62
5 TiO2 ( %) 1.70 1.06
6 P2 O5 ( %) 0.16 0.16
7 SO3 ( %) 0.51 0.21
8 CaO ( %) 2.04 1.15
9 MgO ( %) 1.98 1.23
10 Alkalies ( %) 1.31 0.94
11 pH 8.32 5.06
12 Elect .Cond 0.15 0.04
m.mhos / cm
13 Org. Carbon ( % ) 0.31 0.34
14 Cation Ex .Cap 2.90 7.70
m.eq / 100 gm
15 Total Nitrogen (Kg/ha) 72 437
16 Avail N2 (Kg/ha) 2.4 19.2
17 Avail P2O5 ( ppm) 27.00 20.00
18 Avail K20 ( ppm ) 56.00 52.00
19 Avail Cu ( ppm ) 0.73 2.06
20 Avail Zn ( ppm ) 1.08 2.12
21 Avail Mn ( ppm ) 0.40 42.40
22 Avail Fe ( ppm ) 1.2 57.10
Table 4. Chemical analysis of the fly ash from Jamadoba 10 M.W power plant
(Paul, 2001)

Sl Parameter Description
1. Density 2.4 T/m3
2. Particle size +1mm to -40mm
3. Colour Blackish grey
4. Field capacity (max. water retention 30.1 %
5 Wilting percentage 4.8 %
6. Volume of water (in m ) that can be 0.27m3
accommodated in the inter-spaces of a
cubic meter of this debris material.
Table: 5. Characteristics of the debris material used to prepare the
plot (artificial aquifer) (Paul, 2001)

Sl no Calculations Values
1. Volume of debris taken (30m X 4m X 1.4m) 168m3
2. Weight of the debris (volume X density) 403.2 T
3. The maximum amount of water it can retain in 120.96m3
pore spaces (wt. X field capacity = 403.2 X
4. The amount of water that can be 45.36m3
accommodated in the inter-spaces of the
debris material = 32.4 X 1.4 (step iv)
5. The minimum amount of water the debris will 19.34m3
retain with itself (wt. X wilt percentage =
403.2 X 4.8%)
6. The amount of water available for the plant 146.98 m3
roots (step 3 + step 4 - step5= 120.96m 3 +
45.36m3 - 19.34m3)
Table: 6. Calculation of the water content of the aquifer (artificially
prepared) (Paul, 2001)

Classification Local name Botanical name

1 Aromatic plants (i) Lemon grass Cymbopogon flexuosus
(ii) Vetiver grass Vetivera zizanioides
2 Cole crops (i) Cauliflower Brassica olerecea var.botrytis
(ii) Cabbage Brassica olerecea var. capitata
3 Root crops (i) Radish Raphanus sativus
(ii)Carrot Daucus carota
(iii)Elephant’s ear Colocasia antiquorum
(iv)Beet root Beta vulgaris
4 Bulb crops (i)Onion Allium cepa
(ii)Garlic Allium sativum
5 Solanaceous fruit (i) Brinjal Solanum melongena
(ii)Tomato Lycopersicon esculentum
(iii) Chilli Capsicum annum
6 Vegetables (i) Spinach Spinacia oleracea
(ii) Amaranthus Amaranthus tricolor
(iii) Trigonella(Methi) Trigonella foenumgraecum
(iv) Lady’s finger Abelmoschus esculentus
7 Pulses (i)Pigeon pea Cajanus cajan
(ii)Horse gram Dolichos biflorus
(iii)Cow pea Vigna sinensis
8 Food crops (i)Paddy Oryza sativa
(ii)Maize Zea mays
9 Oil seeds (i)Sunflower Helianthus annuus
(ii)Groundnut Arachis hypogaea
(iii)Castor Ricinus communis
(iv)Mustard Brassica campestris var. dichotma
10 Fruits (i)Guava Psidium guajava
(ii)Pomegranate Punica granatum
11 Forest species (i) Sisum Dalbergia sissoo
(ii) Neem Azadirachta indica
(iii) Subabul Leucaena leucocephala
(iv) Gulmohar Delonix regia
(v) Chakundi Cassia siamea
(vi) Jujube Ziziphus mauritiana
(vii) Castor Ricinus communis
Table 7: The list of species experimented with different type of fly-ash, soil, compost and
green mulch mixture (Paul,2001)