Blue Flag Certification of Indian Beaches

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    • Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Pondicherry beaches in India has been accorded the coveted ‘Blue Flag’ certification, taking the total number of such beaches in the country to 10. 

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    • Blue Flag certification, has also given re-certification for 8 nominated beaches Shivrajpur-Gujarat, Ghoghla-Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri-Karnataka, Kappad-Kerala, Rushikonda- Andhra Pradesh, Golden-Odisha and Radhanagar- Andaman and Nicobar, which were awarded the Blue Flag certificate last year.
      • A waving “Blue Flag” is an indication of 100% compliance to these 33 stringent criteria and sound health of the beach.
    • Achievements: In the last 3 years, India has achieved commendable results in the environmental management of these 10 beaches and some of them are enumerated below:
      • Sand dune restoration and nourishment of 95,000 Sqm (approx.) with native plantation.
      • Reduction in marine litter by 85 % and 78% in marine plastic in the last 3 years.
      • Scientific & responsible disposal of 750 tonnes of marine litter.
      • Improvement in cleanliness level from “C” (poor) to “A++(outstanding) through the scientific measurement system
      • Saving of 1100 ML/year of municipal water through recycling
      • 3 years’ database on regular testing of bathing water quality (physical, chemical and biological contamination) and health risk monitoring.
      • Approx. 1,25,000 beachgoers are educated for responsible behaviour on the beaches
      • Increase in footfall for recreation activities by approx. 80% leading to economic development.
      • Alternate livelihood opportunities for 500 fishermen families through pollution abatement, safety & services.
      • The Ministry is further committed to develop and deliver 100 more beaches under its ICZM initiative in the ensuing 5 years of the Ministry’s vision agenda.

    Other initiatives  of India for sustainable development of coastal regions 

    • India started its journey of sustainable development of coastal regions on World Environment Day in June’ 2018 by launching its beach cleaning campaign – I-AM- SAVING-MY-BEACH simultaneously in 13 coastal states.
    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in its pursuit of “Sustainable Development” of the coastal regions of India embarked upon a highly acclaimed & flagship program Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) which is one of the initiatives under the ICZM approach that the MoEF&CC has undertaken for the sustainable development of coastal regions of India.
    • This was aimed at achieving the globally recognized and coveted International eco-label “Blue Flag”, 
    •  Objective:  To protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of the resources.
      • To abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations. 
    • Impacts: The introduction of the BEAMS program in 10 coastal states have resulted in an international level of cleanliness at beaches with over 500 tonnes of solid waste collected, recycled and scientifically disposed at these beaches reducing the menace of marine litter by over 78% and marine plastic by over 83%. 
      • Approximately 11000 KL of water was saved by recycling & reuse with the BEAMS program, which has resulted in an increase in footfall at these beaches by over 85% cumulative.

    What is the ‘Blue Flag’ certification?

    • The Blue Flag certification programme was started in France in 1985 and in areas out of Europe in 2001. 
    • The certification is awarded by the Denmark-based non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education.
      • FEE Denmark conducts regular monitoring & audits for strict compliance with the 33 criteria at all times.
    • It is a globally recognised eco-label accorded on the basis of 33 stringent criteria in four major heads which are  Environmental education and information, Bathing water quality, environmental management and conservation and safety and services in the beaches.
    • It can be obtained by a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator, and serves as an eco-label. 
    • It is accorded by the international jury composed of eminent members – United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Denmark-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
    • The programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas through four main criteria: water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.

    Source: PIB