Case Study 2

Monika is a District Collector (DC) of a coastal region in Southern India. An NGO has approached her regarding a complaint of illegal construction near a famous lake lying under her area of jurisdiction. When she enquired into the case, she found that high-rise apartments have been constructed eight years back, but they are in violation of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms.

The owners had bought the highly expensive apartments after obtaining all permissions and licenses from the administration at that time. Thus, it may appear wrong to punish them for the possible mistakes committed by builders and others, but not taking action may also set a wrong precedent.

Any action or inaction on the part of the district administration can have serious repercussions on the ecosystem, especially in the wake of the back-to-back floods that have ravaged the whole state over the last two years, triggering landslides leading to massive loss of life and property. Evaluate different options available with Monika and explain what shall be her action plan.

The case highlights corruption in administration in general and real estate in particular. It also highlights our apathy towards environmental concerns.

The following are important issues involved in the case

  1. Role of NGO in the development sector.
  2. Lack of active administration in environmental governance.
  3. Financial and emotional loss to buyers in the real estate sector.
  4. Loss of life and property due to aggravated disaster caused by violation of environmental norms.
  5. Courage and fortitude of Monica.

Monika faces an ethical dilemma. If she chooses to act on illegal construction of high-rise apartments there will be a considerable loss to the genuine buyers.

Options available with Monika

  1. Don’t act on the illegal construction and activate the administration to not let illegal construction happen again.
  2. This will not put the financial and emotional burden on buyers. It will also acknowledge the administration’s failure to act on time.
  3. However, no deterrence will be in place and more such illegal construction will be encouraged.
  4. Demolish the structure and restore the greenery around the lake
  5. This will ensure environmental justice. A strong deterrence will be in place.
  6. However, the loss suffered by the people may make the administration unpopular leading to a loss of social capital.
  7. Take action against the illegal construction but buyers must be paid the deposits back through fines imposed on the builders. Officers granted the license and permission must also be tried under the Prevention of corruption act.
  8. This will ensure environmental and social justice. The violators of the rule will also be punished.

Monica must choose the third option because –

  1. Sustainable development is one of the biggest challenges of the present time.
  2. Strict environmental norms are required to mitigate the impact of disasters.
  3. Culprits must be punished for complete justice.
  4. Citizens must be protected from greed and deceptive sales by real estate builders.   
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