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Corporate social irresponsibility towards the planet: a study of heavy metals contamination in groundwater due to industrial wastewater

Azam Malik (Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia)
Izhar Alam (Department of Civil Engineering, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India)
Mohammad Rishad Faridi (Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia)
Sohail Ayub (Department of Civil Engineering, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 5 September 2019

Issue publication date: 5 September 2019

453

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to collaborate with environmental engineering and management making an effort to provide evidence for the irresponsible behavior of small business set up in north India with special reference to Aligarh City. Corporates have huge accountability for sustainable development, and they cannot overlook the major responsibilities which are lying on their shoulders. CSR is related to the concept of “doing good” but, beyond “doing good” businesses have the responsibility for “avoiding bad” to avoid corporate social irresponsibility (CSI), such as damaging the environment by polluting land, water and air, cheating customers, violating human rights, or doing any unethical practices.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study, random groundwater samples were collected from “Aligarh Nagar Nigam” installed hand pumps from industrial influence areas of Aligarh during the month of October and November 2017. These samples were collected nearby small-scale metal plating industries plants. The samples analyzed by the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) Perkin Elmer PinAAcle 900 F, for Fe, Mn, Pb, Zn, Cu and Cr (Jahromi et al., 2007; Chen and Teo, 2001; Bidari et al., 2007; Land and Hoops, 1973; de Oliveira et al., 2016; Akoto et al., 2016). In addition, some other parameters also taken in this study and the results obtained are compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS).

Findings

These results of the study revealed that the penetration of heavy metals like Cr, Pb, Cu, Zn, Fe and Mn into the soil is found much higher than the permissible limit stated by the government. The concentrations of metals in groundwater found to be within limits, but some metals are exceeding the standard limits in few samples. Concentrations of these heavy metals Cr>Cu>Pb>Fe>Mn are exceeding standard limits, Zn found within permissible limits as per WHO and BIS standard. This result proves to be a means to an end for an irresponsible behavior toward the society and environment which leads to serious health and environmental hazards.

Research limitations/implications

The results are beneficial for data generation on various quality parameters of groundwater. The results of this study help in proper decision-making by concerned authorities to prevent, reduce toxic levels and begin to take steps for making water fit for drinking and other purposes. The research is limited in Aligarh City and other cities are like Kanpur, Noida and Ghaziabad are also tested by taking samples of water, as these cities are extensively captured by SME’s and large scale industries.

Practical implications

The results of this study have several implications for both governmental and non-governmental practice and policy development. As society expects positive attitudes of the businesses toward CSR activities and concern about the environment, businesses, institutions and governments should pay more attention to promote the initiative of environment safety to intensify their public concern. The small business unit must know about the serious health hazards of discharging the waste water in the open and therefore regular checking of heavy metal contamination in the groundwater in these areas is needed and use of contaminated water must be prevented to lessen the health risk caused by using the metal contaminated groundwater. The small-scale industries should follow the guidelines for proper disposal of wastewater discharge. The water treatment technology should involve and take possible steps to remove heavy metals contamination.

Originality/value

This study provides real data to municipality and other government offices which can be used as a benchmark to plan strict policy to prohibit the open discharge of wastewater by industries.

Keywords

Citation

Malik, A., Alam, I., Faridi, M.R. and Ayub, S. (2019), "Corporate social irresponsibility towards the planet: a study of heavy metals contamination in groundwater due to industrial wastewater", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 16 No. 6, pp. 793-807. https://doi.org/10.1108/SRJ-10-2018-0252

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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