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

Published date01 December 2023
AuthorManik Sharma,G. Durga Rao
Date01 December 2023
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, the civil
society influences the actions and outcomes of regulatory processes, mecha-
nisms and organisations in addition to state, market and communities. The
research article attempts to understand the influence the civil society exerts
in addressing the environmental concerns of three village panchayats of 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 affected
population, awareness, participation and role of the civil society and the ways
in which the affected population negotiate with the problem of industrial
pollution are analysed. It is found that the civil society is unable to exert bottom-
up pressure in influencing the policy actions and outcomes in the study area. The
reasons behind such 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
69(4) 845–860, 2023
© 2023 IIPA
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561231196180
Department of Education, Central University of Jammu, Samba, Jammu & Kashmir, India.
Department of Public Administration and Policy Studies, Central University of Kerala, Periye,
Kasaragod, Kerala.
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
846 Indian Journal of Public Administration 69(4)
All over the world, over-exploitation of environmental resources has resulted in
the decline of the resilience of eco-systems which in turn has led to environmental
injustice where the costs of environmental degradation are borne by those who are
generally not responsible for it (Gunningham, 2009; Kadirbeyoglu et al., 2017;
Lemos & Agarwal, 2006). The term ‘environmental governance’ is being pro-
moted to correct this anomaly by making the management of environmental
resources a collective responsibility of the state and the non-state actors such as
market, civil society and communities (Bedajna, 2016; Wingqvist et al., 2012;
Yang et al., 2019). Thus, environmental governance refers to collective decision
making, that is, exercise of authority by the state and the societal actors over envi-
ronmental resources in a manner that leads to sustainable management of those
resources (Chhotray & Stoker, 2009; Wingqvist et al., 2012). It entails a substan-
tial change in the institutional structures so as to enable communities to collabo-
rate, 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
degradation (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, it has undergone several changes (Tandon & Mohanty, 2003). This
article adopts the neo-liberal conception of civil society that operates outside
sphere of the state as an important non-state stakeholder in the network of the
environmental governance and brings about positive environmental outcomes
through its active participation. Emphasis on the participation of the civil society
in environmental governance was rst given by international conventions.
Principle 10 of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 (United
Nations, 1992) and Aarhus Convention of United Nations Economic Commission
for Europe, 1998 (UNECE, 1998), empower civil society to have access to
information, participation, decision making and the justice on matters concerning
environmental protection and conservation. These guidelines laid framework of
environmental governance that introduces trustworthy relationships between the
civil society and the government enabling the former’s participation in decision
making and provides access to information and justice (Murinda, 2015).
Civil society participation in environmental governance takes a variety of forms.
Expert advice and analysis; intellectual competition to 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) had identied ve areas in which the 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

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