UPSC Mains 2022
General Studies Paper - 4, Topic - Case Studies
Jan 06, 2023
4 min read
You are appointed as an officer heading the section in Environment Pollution Control Board to ensure compliance and its follow-up. In that region, there were large number of small and medium industries which had been granted clearance. You learnt that these industries provide employment to many migrant worker. Most of the industrial units have got environmental clearance certificate in their possession. The environmental clearance seeks to curb industries and projects that supposedly hamper environment and living species in the region, But in practice. most of these units remain to be polluting units in several ways like air, water and soil pollution. As such, local people encountered persistent health problems.
It was confirmed that majority of the industries were violating environmental compliance. You issued notice to all the industrial units to apply for fresh environmental clearance certificate from the competent authority. However, your action met with hostile response from a section of the industrial units, other vested interest persons and a section of the local politicians. The workers also became hostile to you as they felt that your action would lead to the closure of these industrial units, and the resultant unemployment will lead to insecurity uncertainty in their livelihood. Many owners of the industries approached you with the plea that you should not initiate harsh action as it would compel them their units, and cause huge financial loss, shortage of their products in the market. These would obviously add to the sufferings of the labourers and the consumers alike. The labour union also sent you representation requesting against the closure of the units. You simultaneously started receiving threats from unknown corners. You however received supports from some of your colleagues, who advised you to act freely to ensure environmental compliance. Local NGOs also came to your support and they demanded the closure of the polluting units immediately.
A. What are the options available to you under the given situation?
B. Critically examine the options listed by you.
C. What type of mechanism would you suggest to ensure environmental compliance?
D. What are the ethical dilemmas you faced in exercising your option?
A. The options available to the officer in this situation include:
1. Taking no action and allowing the industries to continue operating despite violating environmental compliance.
2. Closing down the industries that are violating environmental compliance, despite the potential impact on employment and the local economy.
3. Working with the industries to help them come into compliance with environmental regulations, potentially through providing resources or assistance in meeting standards.
4. Seeking the assistance of higher authorities or other agencies to help address the situation and ensure compliance.
B. The first option, taking no action, would not address the problem of environmental violations and could potentially lead to further health issues for the local community. It would also go against the officer's responsibilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
The second option, closing down the industries, would address the issue of environmental violations, but could have significant negative consequences for the local economy and employment, particularly for the migrant workers who rely on these industries for their livelihoods. This option would also need to be carried out in a careful and planned manner to ensure that the impact on the local community is minimized.
The third option, working with the industries to help them come into compliance, could be a more sustainable solution in the long term, but may require significant resources and time to implement. It could also be difficult to ensure that the industries are fully complying with regulations even with assistance.
The fourth option, seeking the assistance of higher authorities or other agencies, could potentially provide additional resources and expertise to address the situation and ensure compliance, but may also involve complex bureaucratic processes and potential political challenges.
C. To ensure environmental compliance, a mechanism such as regular inspections and monitoring of industries could be implemented, along with penalties or fines for non-compliance. The officer could also work to educate and inform local communities about the importance of environmental regulations and the potential health impacts of pollution.
D. The ethical dilemmas faced by the officer in this situation include the potential impact on employment and the local economy if industries are closed down, and the potential for pushback or resistance from industries and local politicians. The officer must also consider their own safety and well-being, as they are receiving threats from unknown sources.
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