Solved Ethics Papers

Q9. Discharging Toxic Waste in River

Q9. A fresh engineering graduate gets a job in a prestigious chemical industry. She likes the work. The salary is also good. However, after a few months, she accidentally discovers that a highly toxic waste is being secretly discharged into a river nearby. This is causing health problems to the villagers downstream who depend on the river for their water needs. She is perturbed and mentions her concern to her colleagues who have been with the company for a longer period. They advise her to keep quiet as anyone who mentions the topic is summarily dismissed. She cannot risk losing her job as she is the sole breadwinner for her family and has to support her ailing parents and siblings. At first, she thinks that if her seniors are keeping quiet, why she should stick out her neck. But her conscience pricks her to do something to save the river and the people who depend upon it. In her heart, she feels that the advice of silence given by her friends is not correct though she cannot give reasons for it. She thinks you are a wise person and seeks your advice.
(a) What arguments can you advance to show her that keeping quiet is not morally right?
(b) What course of action would you advise her to adopt and why? (250 words)
 
Answer
(a) We can provide the following arguments to drive her to action, instead of keeping quiet.
(i) Once you become aware that toxic waste dumped into the river by your company is causing health hazard to the people living downstream, it is your legal and moral duty to do everything possible to save the lives of the villagers who are ignorant of the health hazard.
(ii) You are part of the company which is doing this illegal act of dumping waste in the river. Once you become aware of an illegality, you must report the matter to the concerned government department. In case, it is proven that you have deliberately suppressed information, action may be taken against you.
 
(b) She must act quite tactfully so that she can achieve her goal without directly coming into the picture. We can provide the following suggestions to her:
(i) Discuss the matter with the senior management and convince them to implement the waste management policy to reduce the discharge of harmful material into the river.
(ii) Inform the villagers or their representatives indirectly through a friend or a NGO about the activity of the dumping of waste and ask them to take up the matter with the local politician or government department.
(iii) Write anonymously or through a friend, a letter to the concerned government department with all the documentary evidence in this regard. This can start a legal action against the company.
(iv) Discretely leak the news to the local media or the newspaper so that the public becomes aware of the mischief of the company and force the company to stop this practice. (268 words)
Q9. Discharging Toxic Waste in River
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