The National Green Tribunal has directed all states to shut down distilleries and sugar mills manufacturing, storing and transporting ethanol, without obtaining permission from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said no industry can run without having appropriate authorisations under the rules as well as license from PESO.
“PESO as well as State of Uttar Pradesh and all concerned States shall take appropriate action in accordance with law, that is hazardous waste and 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 bench said.
The green panel was informed that there were over 147 industrial units in the country and a large number of them were not complying with the laws in force. The tribunal restrained five industrial units in Uttar Pradesh from manufacturing alcohol and issued notices to them.
The five units which have been issued notices are –Hapur-based Brijnathpur Distillery, Lakhimpur Kheri-based Swampurnanand Distillery, Nanoata Distillery in Saharanpur, Anupshahr Distillery in Bulandshahr and Nanpara Distillery in Bahraich.
The order came during the hearing of a contempt plea filed by NGO SAFE alleging that the authorities were allowing illegal operation of these units without license and in contravention of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules 1989, putting lives at grave risk.
The plea referred to UP government’s affidavit and contended that only two of the 35 distilleries had requisite license while the others were manufacturing ethanol illegally. The matter was slated for next hearing on September 14.
“The industries manufacturing absolute alcohol or ethanol were not only operating illegally without the requisite permission from competent authorities, but also manipulating the actual total production, storage and sales figures of absolute alcohol causing not only huge financial loss to state revenue but also jeopardising safety of people and environment,” the NGO has said in its contempt plea.
The NGT had last year directed that no manufacturer will produce absolute alcohol without seeking appropriate permission from the Ministry of Commerce, Chief Controller Explosives and other authorities.
“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 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, such permission is required,” the tribunal had said.