Context: On the eve of International Coastal Clean-Up Day which is celebrated across 100 countries since 1986, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced that for the first time eight beaches of India are recommended for the coveted International eco-label, the Blue flag certification.
- International Coastal Cleanup Day (third Saturday in September) got its start in 1986 when Linda Maraniss met Kathy O’Hara while working for Ocean Conservancy. O’Hara had just completed a report called Plastics in the Ocean: More Than a Litter Problem.
The eight beaches are:
- Shivrajpur in Gujarat,
- Ghoghla in Daman & Diu,
- Kasarkod and Padubidri beach in Karnataka,
- Kappad in Kerala,
- Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh,
- Golden beach of Odisha and
- Radhanagar beach in Andaman and Nicobar.
- Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world.
- The event also saw the launch India’s own eco-label BEAMS (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project by hoisting the flag -#IAMSAVINGMYBEACH simultaneously at these eight beaches.
- The concept of ICZM was introduced in 1992 during the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro and most of the coastal countries in the World have been adopting ICZM principles for managing their coastal zones.
Blue Flag Programme
- The Blue Flag beach standards were established by Copenhagen-based non-governmental, non-profit organisation called Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985.
- The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985.
- The Blue Flag Programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas.
- A beach must be accessible to all (regardless of age, gender, political views, religion) in order to be eligible for Blue Flag accreditation.
- If approved, beaches are given the qualification for a year and must apply annually to continue meriting the right to fly the flag at their locations.
- The Blue Flag programme requires 33 standards in four areas (water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety) to make beaches environment-friendly, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach.
- Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.
Some of the other important standards are:
- Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
- Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
- No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
- Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach (exceptions apply).
- The local authority / beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
- Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
- Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality.
- A beach must be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system.
- Clean water should be available for tourists, apart from international amenities.
- The beach should have facilities for studying the environmental impact around the area.
- Earlier, the Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha became the first in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification — the tag given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
- More beaches in the country are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an Environment Ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, in accordance with the Blue Flag standards.
- These beaches are at Bhogave (Maharashtra), Miramar (Goa), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), etc.
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM)
- Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) has been established under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change.
- Its aim is to support the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management of India and Enhancing Coastal and Ocean Resource Efficiency (ENCORE Project) in all 13 Coastal States /UTs of India. (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep)
- SICOM has also embarked upon the Pilot Blue Flag programme first time in India under Beach Environment & Aesthetic Management Services (BEAMS) for Pilot Beaches.