Under the Environmental (Protection) Act of 1986, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India, Published an EIA notification requiring environmental clearance (EC) before expanding or modernising any activity or starting new projects. The Environmental Impact Assessment is an instrument to evaluate the significant environmental impact of any projects or developmental proposals. It ensures the decision-makers of the industries consider the anticipated effect on the environment and act accordingly. The EIA for sugar industries deals with the impact of solid waste and hazardous gas emissions. I.e. How to optimally use the solid waste of sugarcane industries such as Bagasse and molasses and reduce the environmental impact.
Environmental Impact Assessment is a stepwise process of identifying, evaluating, monitoring and managing the potential impacts of proposed projects on the local area’s environment. Doing so provides opportunities to minimise proposed environmental damage at the initial stages.
EIA Category of Projects for Environmental Clearance
Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralised the environmental clearance projects by categorising the developmental projects into two categories,
- Category A Projects – National Level Appraisal
The category A projects are appraised at the National level by Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)
- Category B Projects – State-level Appraisal
The category B projects are appraised at the State level. The SEIAA (State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) are constituted to provide clearance to the Category B process. The category B projects are further classified into B1 and B2.
The B1 projects get the EC from the state or union territory Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). The B2 projects also get EC from the SEIAA. But, B2 category projects do not require an EIA report and are exempted from holding a public consultation.
Norms of EIA for Sugar Industries
Any developmental activity of sugar industries, which needs EIA clearance (existing project), that undergoes expansion or modernisation (change in process or technology) with the increase in production capacity or any change in product mix beyond the list of products cleared in the issued clearance is required to submit a new application to EIA clearance.
Any developmental activity listed in the Schedule of the EIA Notification and after the expansion due to its total capacity, if it falls under the purview of either category B or Category A, then such developmental activities require clearance from respective authorities. The EIA for sugar industries will also be based on its capacity and expansion.
Screening Stage of EIA
Screening of the project shall be performed at the initial stage of the project development so that proponents are aware of their obligations before deciding on the budget, project design and execution plan. This stage is applicable only for Category ‘B’ developmental activity projects, i.e. if general conditions are applicable for a Category B project, then it will be treated as a category A project. Besides, screening also refers to classifying Category B projects into either Category B1 or B2. Category B1 projects must follow all the stages applicable for a Category A project but are processed at the state-level environmental impact assessment authorities. Whereas Category B2 do not require either EIA or public consultation.
As per the 2006 EIA Notification, the classification of Category B projects falls under the purview of the state level expert appraisal committee (SEAC). This manual provides certain guidelines to the stakeholders for the classification of category B1 and Category B2.
EIA’s Special Provision for Sugar Industries
The MoEF&CC has recently notified a special provision for sugar industries that it relaxes norms for getting prior environmental clearance (EC) for sugar manufacturing and distillery projects. The EIA notification of 2006 mandated getting EC for all new projects, their expansion and modernisation, and changes in the product mix. The latest notification 2006 allows all sugar manufacturing and distillery expansion projects to be treated as the B2 category under the EIA notification 2006. So the new provision of EIA for sugar industries applies to all expansion projects of sugar manufacturing or distilleries, having environmental clearances for their current industrial operations and intending to produce ethanol for blending with petrol under the Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme. The government launched the EBP programme in 2003 to promote using alternative and environmentally friendly fuels.
The main reason for the relaxation of EIA for sugar industries is to provide monetary gains to the mill owners through ethanol sales using the sugar molasses, which will help them clear the farmers’ dues.
Relaxed Environmental Clearance Norms for Sugar Mills
- The current notification clarifies that the exception has been made to increase ethanol production. In 2018 the cabinet committee on economic affairs increased the price of ethanol to be supplied to OMCs under the EBP (Ethanol blended with petrol) to help reduce the arrears of sugarcane farmers.
- The relaxation in environmental clearance for sugar industries facilitates the sugar mills with additional ethanol production from B-heavy Molasses replacing C-heavy Molasses without any increase in the total pollution load.
- The idea is that the monetary gains made by the mills through ethanol sales would be used to clear the dues of farmers.
- The sugar molasses, which acts as wastage, becomes user input.
- The realisation from ethanol is also one of the components in the revenue of sugar mills and distilleries.
- This ethanol blended with the petrol (EBP) program can reduce 3 million tonnes of carbon emission, per the new National Policy on Biofuels.
- The EIA for sugar industries has been relaxed from the B1 category to B2 to emphasise the EBP program.
EIA for Sugar Industries Categorised As B1 and B2
The classification of Category B projects or activities into B1 or B2 (except the project or activities listed in item 8(b) in the schedule to the EIA Notification, 2006) will be determined based on whether or not the project or activity requires further environmental studies for preparing an EIA for its appraisal before the grant of environmental clearance.
The necessity of which will be decided, depending upon the nature and location specificity of the project, by SEAC after scrutiny of the applications seeking environmental clearance for Category B projects or activities.
The projects requiring an EIA report shall be included in Category B1, and the remaining projects will fall under Category B2 and will not need an EIA report and public consultation. The EIA for sugar industries has been relaxed and is categorised under B2.
Situation When a Project Can Be Considered A B2 Category
Regardless of capacity, captive power plants based on Bagasse as fuel shall be considered under category B2. Bagasse and bio-fuel-based power plants up to a capacity of 50 MW Press mud Compost plants are to be fully exempted.
License and Registration Required To Start a Sugar Industry in India
The primary and foremost licenses needed to start a sugar industry are
- Business Registration
- Consent NOC
- FSSAI License
- GST Registration
Documents Required For NOC
- Detailed project report
- Details of manufacturing process
- Land ownership documents
- Industry registration document
- Resource details ( water resources, machinery details etc )
Documents Required For FSSAI License
- List of proposed food articles
- Food safety management system plan
- List of raw material suppliers
- Form IX
Documents Needed By EIA for Sugar Industries
- Detailed Project Description (name of the project, location, etc.)
- Project-related details (waste management process, resource utilisation, etc.)
- Site or Layout Plan
- Proof of installed machinery
- Proof of Land Ownership/ Lease document, if any
- ID proof of Signatory
- Quality test Report
- Explanation of mitigation options adopted
- Proof of Electricity bill
- Proof of water connection
The Environmental Impact Assessment is a tool to assess the significant effects of any projects or modifications in the existing projects on the environment. It helps the organisation to determine its effect of environmental impact at an earlier stage and proposes the opportunity for the organisation to act accordingly. Thus the EIA for sugar industries helps the organisation to identify and evaluate the socio and economic impact early and plan accordingly.