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Centre relaxes environmental clearance norms for sugar mills

  • Category
  • Published
    7th Feb, 2019

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified a special provision that relaxes norms for getting prior environmental clearance (EC) to sugar manufacturing and distillery projects.



  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified a special provision that relaxes norms for getting prior environmental clearance (EC) to sugar manufacturing and distillery projects.


  • The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 had made it mandatory to get an EC for all new projects, their expansion, modernization and change in product mix.
  • This implies that EC had to be acquired before beginning construction work or preparation of land by the project management, except for securing the land.

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA):

  • The EIA notification has three categories — A, B1 and B2.
  • The projects under category A require EC from MoEF&CC.
  • Category B1 projects get the EC from the state/union territory Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). 
  • Projects under category B2 also get EC from the SEIAA. But, B2 category projects do not require an EIA report and are exempted from holding public consultation.

Why did the government opt for “special provision?”

  • The latest notification allows all sugar manufacturing and distillery expansion projects to be treated as B2 category under the EIA notification 2006.
  • This provision was made to produce ethanol for blending with petrol under the Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme.

Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme:

  • EBP programme was launched by the government in 2003 to promote the use of alternative and environmental friendly fuels.
  • This intervention also aimed to reduce import dependency for energy requirements, and give boost to the agriculture sector (supply of straw, additional income to farmers).
  • Oil marketing companies (OMCs) were mandated to sell ethanol blended petrol with percentage of ethanol up to 10 per cent. The government allowed procurement of ethanol produced from non-food feed stocks, like cellulosic and ligno-cellulosic materials, including petrochemical route.
  • Ligno-cellulosic materials: It describes the main constituents in most plants, namely cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Lignocellulose is a complex matrix, comprising many different polysaccharides, phenolic polymers and proteins. Cellulose, the major component of cell walls of land plants, is a glucan polysaccharide containing large reservoirs of energy that provide real potential for conversion into biofuels. It is the non-starch based fibrous part of plant material

 Linkages between Sugar Industry and EBP:

  • The sugarcane and sugar production in sugar season is generally very high leading to dampening   of sugar prices.   Consequently, sugarcane farmers’ dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers.
  • The realization from ethanol is also one of the components in revenue of sugar mills/distilleries, Government has decided to review the price of ethanol derived out of C heavy molasses.

Some elucidations:

  • "A" molasses is an intermediate product obtained upon centrifuging the A masecuite (a semi-solid mixture obtained from the juice of sugar cane after several round) in a raw sugar factory. Approximately 77% of the total, available, raw sugar in clarified/concentrated sugarcane juice is extracted during this first centrifugation process.
  • "B" molasses is also known as "second" molasses. It, too, is an intermediate product, obtained from boiling together "seed-sugar" and A molasses to obtain a B masecuite, which is then centrifuged to extract an additional 12% of raw sugar. At this point, approximately 89% of the total recoverable raw sugar in the processed cane has been extracted.
  • The last molasses is known as "C", molasses. It is the end product obtained upon combining "virgin" sugar crystals obtained from syrup crystallization and B molasses to form a C masecuite, which after boiling and centrifuging produces C sugar and C molasses. Even though C molasses is considered the end or final product in a raw sugar factory, it still contains considerable amounts of sucrose (approximately 32 to 42%) which to date has not been recovered by an economically viable method.
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