Environmental Governance at Crossroads: Civil Society’s Fight Against Industrial Pollution in Kathua Industrial Area, Jammu and Kashmir

Published date01 June 2024
AuthorManik Sharma,G. Durga Rao
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterArticles
Governance at
Crossroads: Civil
Society’s Fight Against
Industrial Pollution in
Kathua Industrial Area,
Jammu and Kashmir
Manik Sharma1 and G. Durga Rao2
As a key stakeholder within the domain of environmental governance, civil soci-
ety influences the actions and outcomes of regulatory mechanisms and organi-
sations, in addition to the state, market and communities. The research article
attempts to understand the influence civil society exerts in addressing the envi-
ronmental concerns of three village panchayats in Kathua district, Jammu and
Kashmir, by studying the case of industrial pollution caused by Kathua Industrial
Area. Issues like severity and impact of pollution on the affected population,
awareness, participation and role of the civil society, and the ways in which the
affected population negotiates with the problem of industrial pollution are ana-
lysed. It is found that civil society is unable to exert bottom-up pressure in influ-
encing policy actions and outcomes in the study area. The reasons behind such
an inability and the measures required to make civil society a reckoning force in
environmental governance are also discussed in the article.
Governance, environmental governance, civil society, industrial pollution
Indian Journal of Public
70(2) 370–385, 2024
© 2024 IIPA
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561231221810
1 Department of Education, Central University of Jammu, Samba, Central University of Jammu, Jammu
and Kashmir, India
2 Department of Public Administration and Policy Studies, Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod,
Kerala, India
Corresponding author:
G. Durga Rao, Department of Public Administration and Policy Studies, Central University of Kerala,
Periye, Kasaragod, Kerala 671316, India.
E-mail: durgaraoganta1@gmail.com
Sharma and Rao 371
All over the world, over-exploitation of environmental resources has resulted in the
decline of the resilience of ecosystems, which in turn has led to environmental injus-
tice where the costs of environmental degradation are borne by those who are gener-
ally not responsible for it (Gunningham, 2009; Kadirbeyoglu et al., 2017; Lemos &
Agarwal, 2006). The term ‘environmental governance’ is being promoted to correct
this anomaly by making the management of environmental resources a collective
responsibility of the state and non-state actors such as the market, civil society and
communities (Bedajna, 2016; Wingqvist et al., 2012; Yang et al., 2019). Thus, envi-
ronmental governance refers to collective decision-making, i.e. exercise of author-
ity by the state and societal actors over environmental resources in a manner that
leads to sustainable management of those resources (Chhotray & Stoker, 2009;
Wingqvist et al., 2012). It entails a substantial change in the institutional structures
so as to enable communities to collaborate, participate and contribute effectively to
manage environmental resources (Ahmad, 2018).
Civil society is an important stakeholder in environmental governance as it
represents the interests of those people who are affected by environmental degra-
dation (Yang et al., 2019). Although the concept of civil society evolved in the
18th century in the writings of Hegel, Marx, etc. in reference to its relationship
with the state, has undergone several changes (Tandon & Mohanty, 2003). This
article adopts the neoliberal conception of civil society that operates outside the
sphere of the state as an important non-state stakeholder in the network of envi-
ronmental governance and brings about positive environmental outcomes through
its active participation. The emphasis on the participation of civil society in envi-
ronmental governance was rst given by international conventions. Principle 10
of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 (United Nations,
1992) and Aarhus Convention of United Nations Economic Commission for
Europe, 1998 (UNECE, 1998) empowers civil society to have access to informa-
tion, participation, decision-making and justice on matters concerning environ-
mental protection and conservation. These guidelines laid a framework for
environmental governance that introduces a trustworthy relationship between
civil society and government, enables civil society participation in decision-
making and provides access to information and justice (Murinda, 2015).
Civil society’s participation in environmental governance takes a variety of forms.
Expert advice and analysis; intellectual competition with governments; mobilisation
of public opinion; representation of the voiceless; service provision; monitoring and
assessment; and legitimisation of global-scale decision-making mechanisms are some
of the forms of civil society participation in environmental governance (Gemmill &
Bamidele-Izu, 2002; Yang et al., 2019). Gemmill and Bamidele-Izu (2002) have iden-
tied ve areas in which civil society organisations (CSOs) are expected to play a key
role with regard to environmental governance. They are information collection and
dissemination; policy development consultation; policy implementation; assessment
and monitoring and advocacy for environmental justice.
Studies conducted on environmental governance have tried to understand the
role of civil society in inuencing the environmental policies, regulations and

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