Environment-friendly, clean and equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists, 13 Indian beaches will soon get the Blue Flag certification.
These beaches of Odisha, Maharashtra and other coastal states will be the first in not just India, but in Asia, to get the Blue Flag certification. The Indian beaches are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an environment ministry's body working for the management of coastal areas, according to the Blue Flag certification standards.
Project Head of SCIOM Arvind Nautiyal said that to make the beaches environment and tourist-friendly in accordance with the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to be plastic-free and be equipped with a waste management system. They also have to ensure availability of clean water for tourists, have amenities of international standards for tourists and be equipped with facilities for studying environmental impact around the beach, he said.
Nautiyal was speaking at a five-day conference, which was organised to commemorate the World Environment Day, about making the beaches pollution free. He said that according to the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to strictly comply with 33 environment and tourism related conditions. There is not a single Blue Flag beach in Asia so far, he added.
The Blue Flag beach standards were established by Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985. The Blue Flag programme, which requires 33 standards in four areas to be met to make beaches environment-friendly, first started from Paris. Within the next two years, almost all beaches in Europe were accorded the Blue Flag certification. This campaign spread outside Europe, to South Africa, in 2001.
Asia remains untouched by it till date. The environment ministry started a pilot project to develop the Indian beaches according to the Blue Flag standards in December 2017. A senior ministry official said that 13 beaches from the coastal states had been chosen for the Blue Flag certification under the project. For this, these beaches are being developed in accordance with the Blue Flag beach standards under a Unified Coastal Areas Management Programme.
This project has two main aims. Firstly, to improve the aquatic habitat by cleaning the growing pollution and garbage in the Indian beaches. Secondly, to develop ecological tourism with constant progress and development of tourist facilities.
According to ministry sources, Chandrabhaga beach of Odisha's Konark coast was the first to complete the tag certification process. It will be awarded the honour on the World Environment Day on June 5. Maharashtra's Chiwla and Bhogave beaches are also being made a part of this initiative. Apart from these, one beach from Puducherry, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands each has been chosen as Blue Flag beach.