Coal is India’s most abundant resource, and it will continue to play a pvcotal role in the country over the upcoming decades. There currently exist in India 82 coal-fired power plants, each of which uses around 1,000 tons of coal and produces about 13.34 tons of fly ash. Fly ash is, alone, a waste product and its responsible disposal poses a huge problem. From each power station, thousands of tons of fly ash are pumped into the ash ponds in the form of slurry (fly ask mixed with water) every day; these lagoons occupy millions of acres of agricultural land all over India.
Pure Earth funded trials of bioremediation of metals in fly ash dumps using Mychorrhizal fungi. These fungi are a beneficial group of micro-organisms that form a mutual relationship with living roots of higher plants and therefore facilitate plant production at fly ash contaminated sites. Mychorrhizal also produces organic acids that combine with some heavy metals to form compounds that are less mobile and less likely to pollute groundwater and surface runoff.