Fly-ash bricks can help India save 20 bn cubic feet topsoil each year

Kolkata, Nov 5 (IANS) About 20 billion cubic feet of topsoil every year can be saved in the country if the 140,000 red brick kilns shift over to using fly-ash, an industry body claimed here on Thursday.

According to Fly-ash Bricks and Blocks Manufacturers’ Federation (Fabmafed), the brick-fields across the country are generating 90 million tonne (mt) of carbon-dioxide emissions each year to produce 240 billion bricks which is rapidly eroding the topsoil – important for agricultural activities and the primary ingredient for making red bricks.

“Besides, the thermal power plants have generated 172.87 mt of fly-ash (residue of coal) using 454.60 mt of coal to produce electricity. This fly-ash can be used to promote usage of fly-ash bricks which will help the country to conserve topsoil,” association president Surajit Basu told media persons here.

Also, 46 mt of coal which is used by the kilns to make bricks can be conserved.

The current level of fly-ash is enough to make 173-140 billion bricks. Presently, the fly-ash brick industry produces 36-54 billion units of brick.

Basu said every state government (excluding the Himalayan states) can earn atleast Rs.1,000 crore extra as tax revenue if the transition from red brick to fly-ash brick takes place.

“The red brick industry is largely unorganised and plagued by unregistered kilns which results in the states losing revenue,” he said.

The estimated cost for the brick-fields to shift over from using topsoil to fly-ash is between Rs.40,000-40,000,000.

“The cost depends on the size of the unit, the prevalent technology and other factors,” said Fabmafed vice-president and legal committee chairman Ashish Nangalia.

According to the association, the state governments need to actively support the transformation.

The union environment and forests ministry has set out a time frame for the use of fly-ash bricks or blocks or tiles for all construction agencies engaged in the construction of buildings within a radius of 100 km from the coal or lignite based thermal power plants (TPP).

Under this directive, the state government is the enforcing and monitoring authority for compliance of the provisions.

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