SAMBALPUR: With rising demand for fly ash bricks, the manufacturing units in the district showed an upward trend. As per data available with Sambalpur Regional Industries Centre (RIC), there are 35 fly ash brick manufacturing units in the district and majority of the units have been set up in the last two years.
Out of 35 units, at least 30 are semi-mechanised units and three are mechanised while the rest are manual units. However, only 20 fly ash brick manufacturing units operating in the district have registered themselves with the RIC. A semi-mechanised unit requires investment of `12 lakh- `35 lakh while a mechanised unit needs `80 lakh - `1.20 crore.
Sources said fired bricks are used for construction and housing purposes. But with increasing royalty on soil, rising prices of coal and difficulty in getting labour, it has been seen that fly ash bricks are replacing fired bricks. Fly ash generated from power plants are mixed with cement and sand as raw materials for its manufacturing.
In 2012, the Works department included fly ash brick in the Schedule of Rates. Other Government organisations, including Rural Development department, Water Resources department besides Police Housing Corporation are some of the major users of such bricks. Three major industries of the district, including Aditya Aluminium, Bhusan Power and Steel Limited and Hindalco Industries Limited generate around 8,800 tonnes of fly ash daily.
Regional Officer of State Pollution Control Board, Sambalpur, Hemendra Nath Nayak said only 10 per cent of the total fly ash generated from the industries is being utilised for brick making. Eco-friendly fly ash brick manufacturing units come under green category and is exempted from environmental clearance, he said.
Vikash Kedia, who has set up a mechanised unit at Kenghati here, said his industry produces around 20,000 fly ash bricks daily. While the price of 1,000 fly ash bricks is `3,500, same quantity of fired bricks cost `4,400. There is a good demand for fly ash bricks in the district, he added. Industries Promotion Officer of RIC Ajit Kumar Bohidar said young entrepreneurs are coming forward to set up fly ash brick units and the response of banks in financing them is also encouraging. A proposal has been mooted to set up a common facility centre to promote the sector, he added.