MoEF and CC relaxes Environmental Clearance procedures for expansion in existing Distilleries and Sugar Mills under EBP (Ethanol Blended Petrol) program
S.O. 1533 (E) dated 14-09-2006 issued by the MoEF and CC, Government of India lays down procedures for Environmental Clearance for projects or activities to be set up in any part of India. Molasses and non molasses based distilleries are placed at item 5 (g) to the Schedule to this notification and Distilleries, as above, require prior environmental clearance from the MoEF and CC or the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities. All Molasses based Distilleries irrespective of capacities and those non molasses based distilleries with a production capacity of more than 60 KLD will be considered for clearance by the MoEF and CC while Non Molasses based Distilleries with a capacity of less than 60 KLD will be considered at the Level of the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority. (S.O. 1599E dated 25-06-2014).
The National Policy on Bio Fuels, 2018 envisages Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme as its main component. The MoEF and CC anticipates that the implementation of the programme would not only result in substantial reduction in air pollution but also saving of precious foreign exchange through import substitutions.
With a view to provide impetus to the production of Ethanol for the limited purpose of blending with petrol exclusively for its usage as bio fuel, the MoEF and CC, Government of India has issued the following procedure through S.O. 345(E) dated 17-01-2019. This will remain in force for one year from the date of its publication i.e. 17.01.2019.
- All expansion projects of Sugar manufacturing or distilleries, having environmental clearances for their industrial operations and intended to produce Ethanol for blending with petrol under the Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme, shall make an application in Form-1 given in Appendix-1 of the E.I.A. notification, 2006 along with the Environmental Management plan, certificate from the Government of India, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas stating that the proposal is for the purpose of blending bio-ethanol with petrol for grant of environmental clearance under the provision of the E.I.A. notification, 2006 and all such applications shall be considered by the concerned sectoral Expert Appraisal Committee or State Expert Appraisal Committee, who shall appraise the proposal as per the procedure applicable to category B2 projects specified in the EIA notification, 2006 based on certificate from Central Ground Water Board regarding adequate availability of Water and adherence to the standard conditions related to distilleries.
- The Expert Appraisal Committee may prescribe in addition to standard Environmental conditions given in the appendix to this notification (S.O. 345 E) dated 17-01-2019 the specific conditions on case to case basis.
- Appraisal as a Category B2 project would necessarily mean that such projects or activities may not need to submit and E.I.A. report and may also not need to undergo the Public hearing procedures. It however lays down that-
- The existing activity must possess an Environmental Clearance.
- The project proponent will have to submit a certificate from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas stating that the proposal is for the purpose of the EBP programme (Blending the bio-ethanol with the petrol).
- The project proponent will also submit a certificate from the Ground Water Board regarding adequate availability of water and adherence to standard conditions related to distilleries.
- This relaxation is only for a year.
A few general conditions appear to be critical and need to be considered before making an application.
- The general condition no. II (v) in the Appendix to notification no. S.O. 345(E) dated 17-01-2019 states that “The National ambient Air Quality Emission Standards issued by the Ministry vide G.S.R. No. 826(E) dated 16-11-2009 shall be complied with”. Similar provisions also exist in the Environment Protection Rules 1986 which restricts additional air pollution in areas where the ambient air quality is beyond standards. In view of the above, project proponents may first like to examine the existing air quality and in the likelihood of any anticipated increase in ambient air quality, reconsider the proposal.
- Standard E.C. condition III-ii stipulates that, no waste/treated water shall be discharged outside the factory premises if the project is achieving ZLD while standard E.C. condition III-iv provides that the effluent discharge shall conform to the standards as prescribed.
- General condition VII (i), related to Green belt, provides for a green belt equal to 33% of the plant area. The project proponents may examine the availability of land in this regard and reconsider the expansion if 33% of total area is not available.