In this article, Alric Tirkey of Institute of Law, Nirma University discusses the legal requirements for setting up a distillation unit in India.


In India there about 295 distilleries mostly situated in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In the process of distillation a large amount of waste and wastewater, which has the great impact by polluting the water bodies and soil, as a result, there is an adverse climatic effect. The effluent generated from the distillery unit is high coloured and contain both high organic as well as inorganic substance.

About alcohol

In chemistry, alcohol is a general term for the group of an organic compound which is a hydroxyl group(-OH) is bound to a carbon atom, which in turn may be bound to other carbon atom and hydrogen. Ethanol which is belonging from the hydroxyl group is considered as a primary alcohol. The main ingredient in alcohol which is used for the consumption purpose is always produced by the process of fermentation. The process of culturing yeast under alcohol-producing conditions is termed as brewing. This method leaves yeast residues and on the industrial scale, carbonation is usually done separately. When any drink concentration has more than  50% of the ethanol by volume are declared flammable liquid which can easily ignite.

Categories of alcohol

In India, there are basically five categories of alcoholic beverages which are beer, wine, Indian made foreign liquor(IMFL), country liquor and toddy. Indian made foreign liquor which includes Rum, vodka and other spirit. Country liquor includes flavored alcohol which has less content of alcohol as compared to the standard for  IMFL. toddy is a mildly fermented juice extracted from palm which is equivalent of the beer in term of the alcohol.

Pollution Control Strategies

Pollution control strategies can be broadly categorized into two type, one is reactive and another is preventive. reactive strategy having steps which may be applied after the wastes are generated or contamination of the receiving environment takes place. The control technology or a combination of technologies to minimize the impact due to the process rejects/wastes varies with quantity and characteristics, desired control efficiency and economics. In order to control the pollution from the environment, lots of combinations of techniques could be adopted for treatment of a specific waste or the contaminated receiving environment, but are often judged based on techno-economic feasibility.

In preventive approach refers to a hierarchy that involves following:-

  1. treatment
  2. disposal
  3. prevention & reduction
  4.  recycling and reuse

There is urgent need to shift the strategy from reactive to preventive in order to promote preventive environmental there is a need to shift the emphasis from the reactive to preventive strategy i.e., to promote preventive environmental management. Preventive environmental management tools may be grouped into management based tools, process-based tools, and product based tools. A few of them are given below:

Management based tools Process-based tools Product based tools
Environmental Management System (EMS)

Environmental Performance Evaluation

Environmental Audits Environmental Reporting and Communication Total Cost Accounting

Law and Policy Trade and Environment Environmental Economics

Environmental Technology Assessment

Toxic Use Reduction

Best Operating Practices Environmentally Best Practice

Best Available Technology (BAT)

Waste Minimization

Pollution Prevention

Cleaner Production

4-R Concept

Cleaner Technology Eco-efficiency

Industrial Ecology

Extended Producer’s Responsibility


Design for Environment

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA)

State Environment Impact assessment authority is constituted by the Ministry of Environment Forest have the power to take a final decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of prior environmental clearance to the project proposal.

A.Constitution ̇of state environment Impact assessment authority (SEIAA)

State Environment Impact Assessment Authority is established by the Central Government comprising of three members including a Chairperson and Member-Secretary who is nominated by the State Government or Union Territory  Administration concerned.  The chairperson and the other non-official member shall have a fixed term of three years from the date of notification announced by the central government while constituting the authority.


The chairperson shall be an expert in the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

Member-Secretary shall be a serving officer of the concerned State Government or Union Territory Administration who is familiar with the environmental laws.

̇Member-Secretary who is equivalent to the Director in the Department of Environment. All the members including the Chairperson shall be the experts as per the criteria set in the Notification. ̇ The Government servants can only serve as the Member-Secretary to ‘SEIAA’ and the Secretary to SEAC. all the member of the SEIAA including Chairperson and SEAC shall not be comprised of serving Government Officers, industry representatives and the activists.


In India, the alcohol of different varieties are not made from the different feedstock, basically, they all are made by blending suitable colors, flavors, additives etc to the spirit made from the fermentation of molasses.

There different type of distilleries like:-

  1. Distilleries based on cereals
  2. Distilleries based on molasses.
  3. Distilling Processes Based on Raw Materials

Sequence of steps for production of ethanol

Ethanol is the final end product of three processes namely

  1. Fermentation Process: – fermentation process is a metabolic process in which there is a conversion of sugar into acid and gas or alcohol it occurs in yeast and bacteria and also in the oxygen-starved muscle cell, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation.
  2. Distillation Process: – distillation process is the process in which water is removed from a mixture of ethanol and water.
  3. Dehydration Process: – pure alcohol can not be obtained from the distillation process since it forms an azeotrope with water at 96%(V/V).Absolute alcohol is produced by the dehydration process of Rectified Spirit.

Application for prior environmental clearance

  1. To apply for the prior environmental clearance in form 1 of Environmental impact assessment, the applicant needs to submit the project proponent, after identifying the site and he/ she have to carry out the feasibility study. The applicant has to submit the proponent has to submit the filled in form 1 along with the pre-feasibility report and draft ToR of distilleries  for EIA studies to the concerned authority like Ministry of environment and forest, government of India for category A project and SEIAA for category B project.,
  2. Before starting the construction work or preparation of land it is mandatory required to have the prior environmental clearance except for securing the land.

Areas preferably be avoided

While establishing the industry, more care should be taken to minimize the adverse impact of the industries on the immediate neighbourhood as well as distance places. Setting up the industry which causes an impact on the natural life-sustaining the system and some specific land which are sensitive to the industry impact. In order to protect such sites, the industry should maintain the following distance as far as possible from the specific areas listed:

  1. Ecologically sensitive areas: – Industry should be preferably 5 km away from the ecologically sensitive area, depending on the geo-climatic conditions the requisite distance may be decided appropriately by the agency.
  2. Coastal Areas: industry should be Preferably ½ km away from high tide line (HTL).
  3. Floodplain of the riverine system: – Industry should be preferably ½ km away from floodplain or modified floodplain affected by a dam in the upstream or by flood control systems.
  4. Transport/Communication System: industry should be installed preferably ½ km away from highway and railway line.
  5. Major settlements (3, 00,000 population): it is difficult to maintain distance because of the urban sprawl Distance from major settlements is difficult to maintain because of urban sprawl. At the time of siting of the industry, if the notified limit of any major settlement is found to be within 50 km from the project boundary, the spatial direction of growth of the settlement for at least a decade must be assessed.the industry shall be sited at least 25 km from the industry projected growth boundary of the settlement.

Compilation of legal instrument

  1. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 amended 1987
  2. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Union Territories) Rules, 1983
  3. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 amended 1988
  4. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1975
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, amended 1991
  6. Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986 (Amendments in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2002, 2002, 2003, 2004)
  7. Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 amended 2000 and 2003
  8. EIA Notification, 2006
  9. Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 amended 1992
  10. Public Liability Insurance Rules, 1991 amended 1993
  11. Factories Act, 1948
  12. The Explosives Act,1884
  13. The Static and Mobile Pressure Vessels(Unfired) Rules, 1981
  14. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988
  15. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989
  16. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
  17. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955

Source :-Technical EIA Guidance Manual For Distilleries by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

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  1. what i was looking for was a road map ; this is like a travel guide …. nothing informative just a Copy pasted article anoter academic pundit article

    what is the heading again ?”What are the legal requirements for setting up a Distillation unit?”

    u r a Law school teacher i presume ….. else who else would be able to write something so useless …..

    or u r one of those lawyers who charges per word per page kind of thing no substance , nothing absolutely waste of time ….