Some Issues of Interest to the Distillery Sector

Some Issues of Interest to the Distillery Sector.

By Dr. Yashpal Singh

Former, Director, Environment, Government of U.P.

Presented at the 6th Annual Seminar of U.P. Distillers Association on 28/04/2017

Updated 10/05/2017

On Technology

  1. The issue of imposing concentration and incineration as the sole viable technology for spent wash treatment and disposal was raised for the first time in the matter of Krishnakant Singh vs. Simbhaoli Sugar Mills and others. Due to far reaching consequences , Distillery Associations got impleaded as a party and impressed upon the NGT to allow from the mix of technologies on a case to case basis rather than insist on a particular technology to achieve Standards. The NGT in its orders passed in the above matter specifically directed that the Central and State Pollution Control Boards should allow the use of one or more technologies from the basket of technologies as prescribed under CREP. This part of the order has not been contested further by the CPCB or the State Boards. There is a necessity of the Boards being advised to comply with this direction.
  2. The Central and State Pollution Control Boards had also disallowed the use of distillery spent wash in the production of Biocompost. Distillery Associations mobilised timely discussions on the issue and drafted strong representations , discussed the matter at the highest decision making levels including the Ministry of Agriculture and convinced the CPCB to reconsider its decisions and allow biocomposting. Biocomposting has since been allowed. Distillery Associations had also represented against the provision of covered sheds for all seasons and their contention on the issue has been accepted by the regulators.
  3. A draft notification on the prescribed standards for distillery effluents has been issued by the MoEF&CC and suggestions invited. The proposed notification includes imposition of ZLD on Distillery Industries. The Distillery Association has drafted a strong representation and sent its suggestions to the MoEF&CC and CPCB. There is a need to follow up the matter and to request them to make a submission in this regards, if considered necessary. Through the said submission it has been requested, that distilleries on a case to case basis, to the satisfaction of the Pollution Control Board, be allowed to use from the mix of technology options so that  spentwash can be maximally and sustainably utilized as a resource for biogas generation, bio-compost, ferti-irrigation, one time land application, irrigation, sodic land reclamation, incineration and co-processing depending upon local conditions. The existing technologies could be revaluated by an independent expert committee and protocols prescribed/ revised if required. The draft notification proposes to allow only concentration followed by incineration/ biocomposting for distilleries attached to Sugar Mills and only concentration followed by incineration for standalone distilleries. It fails to allow other technologies which have from time to time been established as viable technologies by the CPCB, some of which are already being practiced in most of the southern states and are certainly more sustainable than concentration and incineration. The CPCB in suggesting concentration and incineration seems to be guided by ZLD as being the sole objective and solution to distillery waste management regardless of its being wasteful, unsustainable and difficult to achieve. It feels that other technologies are not viable because they are not ZLD, regardless of the fact that spent wash is one of the most sustainable resource for soil fertility, irrigation and soil conservation as widely practiced across the globe. In not using spent wash for land application and remediation of sodic soils we are wasting hundreds of millions of rupees and putting additional pressures on fertilisers and water. The Distillers may like to follow this up with the MoEF&CC.
  4. The Distillery Associations and UPSMA have represented against ZLD and have asked the NGT to allow the use of Biomethanated spent wash for One Time Controlled Land Application also. This may need a strong unified follow up.
  5. The NGT in its orders passed on 4th, January, 2016 mentioned that they have been informed that ZLD  and provision of Continuous On Line Monitoring systems is difficult to achieve. The NGT has, therefore, directed the Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Water Resources, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam, Uttar Pradesh Jal Sansthan and State of Uttar Pradesh to take and communicate a clear stand with regard to the matter. There is a need to ensure that the State Agencies send in their views.
  6. In April, 2016 the CPCB had consented to amend guidelines for storage of concentrated spentwash from the previously specified capacity of  15 days to 30 days.  I believe that the UPPCB has already instructed the concerned departmental officers in U.P. Certain Distilleries are still facing some problems  this regards.I think that the matter could be brought to the notice of the UPPCB.

On Disposal Options

  1. The NGT has been holding a series of Chamber Meetings to discuss various issues related to Ganga Pollution. UPSMA is being regularly invited to these meetings and has made representations for allowing Sugar Industries to discharge treated effluents into inland surface waters as per the standards prescribed on 14-01-2016.This may also need to be followed up.
  2. Apart from the request of Distillery Associations to permit One Time Controlled Land Application, some recent submissions made by the CPCB before the NGT are significant.
  3. The CPCB has, in a report filed on 8-09-2016 before the NGT, suggested that River Ganga can be restored and rejuvenated by “stopping disposal of sewage and industrial effluents into river or if disposed it should be of bathing river quality standards”. Industries and local bodies in U.P. would be required to additionally invest hundreds of crores of rupees to treat effluents to the bathing water quality standards which, being use based water quality standards, are much more stringent than the general effluent quality standards. This will deeply impact the competitiveness of Industry and sustainability of local bodies in U.P.
  4. The CPCB has also suggested that, “In future, prior to granting permission to any industry to operate in the catchment area of the Ganga, the industry should not be permitted till it has improved proper system of reutilisation of effluents instead of its discharging into any drain.” This is implying that all industry in Uttar Pradesh will have no option but to ensure that they do not discharge any effluents into drains. This will involve huge expenditure in concentration /incineration systems which as admitted by the CPCB, have a very high Carbon Footprint , much more than the conventional treatment systems , are highly power intensive and have a very high capital and recurring expenditure. If this is accepted, Industry in U.P. may find it difficult to survive.
  5. A notification no. S.O.3187 has been issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on 7-10-16 which, at rule 6, prohibits the discharge of any untreated or treated sewage or sewage sludge, trade and industrial waste, biomedical waste or other hazardous substances into the River Ganga or its tributaries or its banks directly or indirectly. I feel that distilleries may need to discharge effluents other than Distillery spent wash and the prohibition, if applied to treated wastewaters, is not desirable environmentally, is not good for the river and is not required under law and that if the provisions as above are implemented they would result in stupendous unsustainable expenditures with a high Carbon lifecycle and have deleterious effects on the environment. They would also impact the economic competitiveness of the industries in Uttarakhand, U.P., Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal in India. Disposal of treated effluents into inland surface waters plays a very important ecological role of maintaining the minimum flows in rivers and augmenting the self cleansing capacities. Asking industries which may not be abutting the Ganga but be considerably removed from it, not to discharge their treated effluents into any drain may be unsustainable and not conducive to achieving minimum flow requirements. Augmentation of flows is a standard practice for utilizing treated effluents. The Distillery Associations and the UPSMA have both submitted representations to the NGT in this regards. This may require to be pressed.

On Biocomposting and Bagging

  1. It is with a great deal of effort that you could succeed in continuing with biocomposting as a viable technology.The bio-organic manure (Distillery Bio-compost) is regulated under FCO norms which required a certificate to manufacture . This has now been relaxed by the FCO, for the ease of Distilleries through  Notification no. 2339 dated 23.09.2016. Accordingly, Distilleries have to only obtain authorization letter from specified Government agencies to sell their Bio-compost as per specifications as laid down in FCO.
  2. I have also been given to understand that the prescribed particle size stipulations of “minimum 90% material should pass through 4.0 mm IS sieve” has been prescribed under Bio-enriched – bio manure specification laid down by the FCO Order. Since a moisture content of 30-40% in the manure has also been specified to ensure that the bacteria survive, it is very difficult to bring down the particle size to 4.0 mm, as the material sticks to the hammer mill and the screen itself. Since the bio manure compost is moist and is likely to cake when stacked, it is suggested that particle size condition may be dropped, or modified suitably. The UPDA may like to make a representation in this regards
  3. It has also been brought to my knowledge that many farmers have expressed desire with the distilleries, to buy Bio-enriched manure compost in bulk instead of paying additional price of bagging, which increases the price to the farmers and that in many cases the price of bagging is more than the cost of bio enriched manure itself. What has been expressed as a more critical concern by some distillers is that the distillery industry can produce about 4.0Million MT of bio-enriched manure per annum, which will entail use of nearly 80 Million Bags ( 8 Crores) of 50 Kg capacity each, annually. Since these bags cannot be re-used for bagging bio enriched manure, as per existing FCO norms and also as these bags being non bio-degradable, such large number of bags when sold or / used in mostly rural area will be a serious cause of concern, where systematic garbage collection or disposal almost does not exist. It may therefore prove to be an additional source of creating pollution.  Suggestions could therefore be made to the concerned regulatory agencies that the bio enriched manure may not be clubbed with normal fertilizer in terms of bagging and may be permitted to be sold in bulk/loose.
  4. Some distillers would like to continue with their demand of persuasion with Agriculture Ministry for fertilizer subsidy at par with Chemical fertilizers, to bridge the competitive disadvantage because presently the City compost is getting subsidy of Rs. 1500 per ton, whereas Distillery Bio-compost has been refused subsidy inspite of industry production of about  4 Million MT & market demand being even higher.

On Compliance to PESO

  1. The Honourable NGT has in Original Application No. 130 of 2016 (M.A. No. 416 of 2016),Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE) Vs.Union of India & Ors. directed that “No manufacturer will produce Absolute Alcohol without seeking appropriate permission from the Ministry of Commerce, Chief Controller of Explosives and other Authorities in accordance with law. It is in view of the fact that under the manufacture, storage and import of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989 and chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules 1996 as notified under the provision ofEnvironment (Protection) Act, 1986 such permission is required.” A perusal of the said order suggests that the NGT has prohibited manufacture of Absolute Alcohol unless the said permissions are obtained. The order also directs that appropriate permissions should be sought from the Ministry of Commerce, Chief Controller of Explosives and other Authorities. The  order also says that such permissions are mandated under the MSIHC Rules 1989 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, preparedness and response) rules 1996.

On Compliance with Hazardous Waste Management Handling Rules


  1. Directions U/s 5 of the E.P. Act have been given by the CPCB to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board regarding compliance of Industries to the Hazardous Waste Management Rules 2016 directing that those Industries which are not complying may be ordered to be closed down. Distilleries may therefore Inventories Hazardous Wastes from the Industry as per Schedule I, II and III of the rules of 2016 and those Industries which do not have an authorization under the rules should apply for authorization based on this inventorisation and inform the Board accordingly.Industries which have an authorization should recheck the authorized waste category in relation to the revised inventory under para 1 as above and apply for a modified authorization, if the authorized categories are different from the actual waste categories as per the revised inventory and inform the Board. In case no modification is required, inform the Pollution Control Board accordingly in response to the Direction along with a compliance report on the other conditions of the Hazardous waste authorisation.


On Violation of the EIA Notification of 14-03-2017


  1. The requirements for environmental clearance mandate that all Distilleries which want to establish new manufacturing facilities or which are planning an expansion or modernisation have to seek an Environmental Clearance which is considered for them through the State Level Impact Assessment Authority or the Expert Appraisal Committee at the Centre as prescribed. Similarly all biomass based power plants and all non molasses based distilleries below 60 kld also need to seek an approval of the State Authority. Other Power plants and distilleries need an approval of the MoEF &CC, Govt. of India through the Expert Appraisal Committee.Cases were brought to the notice of the MoEF & CC where the construction/physical/operation activities relating to the projects have been started at site with out obtaining a clearance. This is considered to be a violation. Therefore, in order to ensure that all entities not complying with the E.I.A. notification of 2006 are made to comply with environmental laws in an expedient way, the MoEF&CC has established a process of appraisal for cases of violation through S.O. no. 804(E) dated 14-03-2017 such that it deters the violation of provisions of the EIA notification of 2006 and the costs of violation and damage to environment are adequately compensated for.  Such damages are legally provided to be recovered under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986, along with the provision of any other directions including closure, that may need to be issued by the MoEF & CC under provisions of the E.P. Act of 1986 (Sections 3 and 5). The following provisions have been made through S.O.804(E) dated 14-03-2017.  All cases of violation will be considered as category ‘A’ projects (even Cat ‘B’ projects would be regarded as Cat ‘A’) and Environmental Clearance will be granted at Central Level. In cases of violation, action shall be taken by the State/State Board under the Provisions of Section 19 of the E.P. Act 1986 and further no. consent to operate or occupancy certificate shall be issued till the project is accorded an Environmental Clearance. This is important for the Distillery Sector because all  biomass based Power plants and non molasses based distilleries below 60 kld are Category B activities and if a violation is detected, it will become Category A and the industry would have to approach the Centre for a clearance. The procedure prescribed through the notification No. S.O. 804(E) dated 14-03-2017 is applicable only on these projects or activities which are in violation on the 14-03-2017 and the application for environmental clearance for cases of violation (as on 14-03-2017) can only be made within Six months of the notification i.e. 14-03-2017. The Ministry with therefore not consider any violation cases, if the violation has been committed after 14-03-2017 and if the application is made six months after 14-03-2017.


Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles