Earning profit is the main motive of any industrial organisation. But it is not the sole object of industry. An industry has certain obligations towards society. It has to respect social values and norms and give back to society, because it is the society that provides all possible resources to carry out the industrial and commercial activities to sustain the business of the company. But in the pursuit of earning more profit in a short period, industries ignore ethics and pay no heed towards social responsibility. Though this socially undesirable practice may maximise the profit, it will have adverse ramifications for the society at large. It is only socially responsible and ethically upright behaviour by the dint of which an industry can flourish and prosper.
CSR is a concept whereby companies decide to voluntarily commit towards the wellbeing of society and the environment. In this practice, companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with stakeholders. This obligates companies to voluntarily take initiatives to improve the well-being of their employees and their families as well as of the local community and society at large. A company can do so through a number of ways, like protection of environment, donation towards charity work, healthcare facilities, education, water supply, poverty alleviation, and all that. The success in a business enterprise is not confined to profitability, growth rate and brand recognition. In the present world, a company is recognised by how it impacts the community, economy, environment and society at large. Such work is sure to create a niche for the company in the market and among customers, employees, and investors.
When Kashmiri areas like Khonmoh, Khrew, Wuyan, etc, flash across our mind, their image is one replete with cement establishments. The business owners of these establishments reap huge dividends from their operations. Their operation has gigantic impact on the local ecosystem and that of other areas in the vicinity. It has adverse impact on the flora and fauna of the surrounding forests. Vast proportions of natural resources of the area are being utilised to meet the demands of production of cement. The pollution from these cement plants is increasingly devouring the ecosystem of the place in different ways: degradation of air quality, soil pollution, threat to wildlife, contraction of various ailments by local populace, and so on.
The companies owe a responsibility and accountability towards the local community and the areas in their vicinity. But out of avarice, the companies are reluctant to implement CSR to evade the burden on their capital. They contribute only that which suits their convenience. The government of India made it mandatory for companies to undertake CSR activities under the companies Act 2013. The concept of CSR is defined in the clause 135 of the Act. Under this clause, the companies are supposed to set aside at least 2% of their average profit in the last three years for CSR activities.
The cement companies should work with an altruistic and philanthropic approach, besides abiding by government legislation, and seriously undertake CSR practices to provide relief to the inhabitants of the area of their operation. There are various concerns that need attention of the company. These are poverty alleviation measures, employment generation, healthcare facilities, sanitation, education, skill development, scholarships for poor students, promotion of sports activities, and so on. In addition to this, the companies should prioritise conservation of environment by installation of latest technology in the cement plants so that emission of greenhouse gases, effluents and other pollutants from these plants are reduced to a great extent. As all the cement plants have failed to maintain pollutant standard index (PSI), it has become a matter of concern for the people of the area.
The writer has a PhD in English Literature. He can be reached at [email protected]