First Update 23/06/2021
Environment Clearance Procedures Relaxed for Distillery and Sugar Mills going in for expansion under the Ethanol Blended Petrol Program
By Dr. Yashpal Singh
- As per the EIA notification of 2006 (as amended by S.O.No.1960 E dated 13-06-2019), Molasses based Distilleries with capacities less than equal to 100 KLD and Non- Molasses Based Distilleries with capacities less than equal to 200 KLD shall be considered for Environmental Clearance by the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority through the SEAC and for capacities beyond this by the MoEF&CC, Govt. of India through the EAC. General Conditions would apply, meaning thereby that the project would involve the preparation of an EIA report and the conduct of Public Hearing before appraisal and that Distilleries specified in Category ‘B’( State Level Clearance) will be treated as Category A( Central Government Clearance)if located in whole or in part within 5 km from the boundary of : (i) Protected areas notified under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972); (ii) Critically polluted areas as identified by the Central Pollution Control Board constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 (6 of 1974) from time to time; (iii) Eco-sensitive areas as notified under sub section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and (iv) inter-State boundaries and international boundaries.The requirement regarding distance of 5 km, of the inter-State boundaries can be reduced or completely done away with by an agreement between the respective States or the Union Territories sharing the common boundary in case the distillery does not fall within 5 km as the case may be of the areas mentioned at item (i), (ii) and (iii) above.
- Through a notification dated the 2nd of March, 2021 the MoEF & CC, Government of India has provided that any increase in production capacity in respect of processing or production or manufacturing sectors(listed against item numbers 2,3, 4 and 5 in the Schedule to this notification; item no. 5 includes Distilleries and Sugar Mills) with or without any change in (i) raw material-mix or (ii) product-mix or (ii) quantities within products or (ii) number of products including new products falling in the same category or (iv) configuration of the plant or process or operations in existing area or in areas contiguous to the existing area (for which prior environmental clearance has been granted) shall be exempt from the requirement of Prior Environmental Clearance provided that there is no increase in pollution load (derived on the basis of such Prior Environmental Clearance) but the provisions of this clause shall not be applicable if such change or increase results in change in category of project or activity from Category “B2″ to either Category “A” or Category “B1″.
- Expansion of sugar manufacturing units or distilleries, having Prior Environment Clearance and for production of ethanol, to be used as fuel for blending only as certified by the competent authority, shall be appraised as Category “B2″ projects.
- The project proponent is required to obtain a certificate of “no increase in the pollution load”from the environmental auditors or reputed institutions, to be empaneled by the State Pollution Control Board or Central Pollution Control Board or Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (hereinafter referred to as the Ministry).
Provisions in the Amendment under consideration.
S.O. 2339(E) dated 16-06-21. MoEF & CC, Govt. of India
- The Earlier requirement of getting a certificate (see History, para 3 above) from the competent authority,certifying that the distillery is producing/shall produce ethanol for blending with fuel has been done away with and replaced by a self certification in the form of a notarized affidavit to certify that the Ethanol from proposed project shall be used completely for the Ethanol Blending programs.
- If it is found subsequently that the ethanol is not being totally used for the Ethanol blended program, the E.C. shall stand cancelled. This certificate is different from the “No Increase in Pollution Load Certificate” for which there are no changes and which has to be obtained from the agencies authorized by the CPCB/MoEF and CC and the State Boards.
- For Grain Based Distilleries
- Distilleries engaged in the manufacture of ethanol from grain and practicing Zero Liquid Discharge, grant of E.C. shall be now considered by the State Authority (SEIAA) as a category B project and not require any EIA or Public hearing (B2) however, if it is notified so by the Central Government, on account of exigencies such as pandemics, natural disasters, or to promote environmental friendly activities under Nation Programs or Schemes or Missions the appraisal would be done by the Central Government through the EAC, MoEF and CC as a category B project. A notification would be required for defining such projects.
- Projects without a Zero Liquid Discharge shall be considered as category A projects and appraised by the EAC, MoEF and CC. This provision is applicable up to application filed by 31st March 2024 or till further notification whichever is earlier.
- Applications made beyond 2024 shall be considered as per provisions in force at that time.
- For Existing Molasses Based Distilleries and Sugar Mills
- Existing Sugar manufacturing units or distilleries having a prior E.C. for the existing industry and which propose to manufacture ethanol completely for the Ethanol Blended Program as per the self certification in the form of a notarized affidavit by the project proponent shall be appraised as a B2 project and not need any EIA or Public hearing for appraisal. This self certification is different from the No increase in pollution load certificate. If it is subsequently found that the Ethanol is not being used completely for the EBP program or if the conditions under which it has been appraised as a B2 project are not been fulfilled, the E.C. shall stand cancelled.
- Such projects which are part of category B(Normally State Level clearance), if notified so by the Central Government on account of exigencies such as pandemics, natural disasters, or to promote environmentally friendly activities under National Programs or Schemes or Missions would be appraised by the Central Government through the EAC, MoEF and CC. A notification would be required for defining such projects which shall be appraised as Central Level as a category ‘B’ project.
Some Clarification (Update 23/06/2021)
Through the E.I.A. amendment notification of 2.3.2021, the MoEF & CC has exempted the requirement of Prior Environmental Clearance for any increase in production capacity, with or without any other changes as specified, in respect of manufacturing sectors 2,3,4 and 5 of the schedule to the EIA notification, subject to the condition that a ‘No Increase in Pollution Load’ certificate is obtained from the competent agency and submitted.
It is also observed that-
- Exemption granted to existing projects (having prior environmental clearance) with no increase in pollution load will not be applicable if such change or increase results in change of category of project or activity from category B2 to either category A or B1. For Example a distillery A is currently operating at a capacity of 90 KLD based on molasses for which it has an existing Environmental Clearance and has been appraised as Category ‘B’ as per notification (<100 KLD). It proposes an expansion of 40 KLD raising the production capacity to 130 KLD. Because of the production causing an increase beyond the category ‘B’ threshold of 100 KLD, it now falls under category A. Under these circumstances the concessions will not be applicable and an application for EC has to be made as a Category A project.
- Expansion of Sugar manufacturing units or distilleries having Prior Environment Clearance and for production of Ethanol to be used as fuel for blending only as certified by the competent Authority shall be appraised as Category B2. This provision of a certificate from the competent authority has been replaced by a self certification as per the amendment of 16-06-2021 as discussed.