Industries Producing Absolute Alcohol To Remain Shut Until Licenses Are Procured, Directs NGT [Read Order]

Industries Producing Absolute Alcohol To Remain Shut Until Licenses Are Procured, Directs NGT [Read Order]

Industries manufacturing absolute alcohol or ethanol without necessary licenses from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) shall remain shut, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed.

Maintaining its earlier order of August 30, 2017, the tribunal has held that PESO has to ensure that no industry producing absolute alcohol or ethanol operates without such license.

Absolute alcohol is ethyl alcohol of 99.5 per cent grade, used for blending fuel, which is extremely inflammable and hazardous for environment and human life, an application filed by environment group Social Action for Forests and Environment (SAFE) had stated.

The applicant had submitted a list of 179 sugar industries across Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab, which were allegedly involved in manufacturing, storage and transportation of ethanol, without the mandatory licenses from the PESO, as necessitated under the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, and the Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules 1996 under the Environment Protection Act. 1986.

On August 30, 2017, the tribunal had held that “PESO as well as State of Uttar Pradesh and all concerned states shall take appropriate action in accordance with law, i.e., hazardous waste, chemical waste rules and the PESO, as it is the competent authority to issue licenses. In our considered view, being licensing authority it is vested with obligations to ensure that the person/industry do not generate or produce absolute alcohol without obtaining the license prior to such production”.

The green court had also, through the same order, shut down five industries in Uttar Pradesh, as admitted to have been producing ethanol by the state.

Following the NGT’s order, a meeting was held among officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Uttar Pradesh Excise Department, Uttarakhand Excise Department, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and the Central Pollution Control Board during which it was concluded that the Environment and Petroleum Ministries had no role in issue of licenses to the ethyl-alcohol manufacturing units.

It was the Excise Department in the States and Union Territories which was the concerned agency for issuing licenses under Excise Act for manufacturing ethyl alcohol and the mandatory licenses under Explosives Act are required to be obtained from PESO, according to the deliberations. The joint meeting also held that the “State authorities, in particular, the Chief Inspector of Factories, are required to implement the provisions of MSIHC Rules, 1989, and violations, if any, to be dealt in accordance with law”.

Counsel for the applicant, Sanjay Upadhyay, told the court that non-cooperation and non-coordination between the Environment Ministry, PESO, headed by Chief Controller of Explosives (under control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry) and Excise Department was leading to non-compliance of the Rules.

“We are of the view that as noted in the order of this Tribunal dated 30.08.2017, PESO is the competent authority to issue licenses and to ensure that no industry producing absolute Alcohol functions without such license. Accordingly, directions in our order dated 30-08-2017 absolute,” a bench headed by Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said, while passing the final order on July 24.

“Such industries are required to comply with the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 specially with regard to preparation of on-site emergency plan as well as off-site emergency plan as required under Rules 13 and 14 of the said Rules,” the tribunal said.

PESO has been directed to take action against industries, which have been running without licenses, including those that procured it subsequently.

Read the Order Here