in-a-first-eight-beaches-of-india-recommended-for-the-coveted-blue-flag-international-eco-label

Context: On the eve of International Coastal Clean-Up Day Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced the names of eight beaches of India recommended for the Blue flag certification. It also launched India’s own eco-label BEAMS.

More about news:

  • Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world
  • 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.

About Blue flag certification

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ is a certification that can be obtained by a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator, and serves as an eco-label. 
  • The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education, with 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is, 
    • Environmental Education and Information 
    • Bathing Water Quality 
    • Environment Management and Conservation and
    • Safety and Services.
  • It is awarded annually to beaches and marinas in FEE member countries.
  • An eminent international jury recommends the award, comprises members of the 
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 
  • United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 
  • Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and 
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • It was first started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987. Since 2001 it has been implemented in areas outside Europe when South Africa joined.
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in south and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches. 
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395 Blue Flag beaches.
 

Significance of Blue Flag:

  • Environmental conservation: Blue flag beaches have grey water treatment plants, solid waste management plants, solar power plants, solar lighting etc.
  • Tourism: It prompts the administration to develop more beaches to attract a large number of tourists for promoting tourism in the district. 

Govt. initiatives for clean beaches

  • Exemption from CRZ regulations: The latest CRZ 2018 notification allows “eco-tourism activities such as mangrove walks, tree huts, nature trails, etc” in eco-sensitive areas, demarcated as CRZ-IA. 
    • The Centre declared a list of activities and facilities that would be permissible in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) areas of certain beaches, which have been identified for obtaining the ‘Blue Flag’ certification.
    • These activities would be exempt from prior clearance under the provisions of CRZ Notification, Island Protection Zone Notification and Island Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications.
    • The following prominent activities and facilities would be permitted in the CRZ of the beaches, including islands, subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 meters from the High Tide Line (HTL):
      • Portable toilet blocks, change rooms and shower panels;
      • Grey water treatment plant;
      • Solid waste management plant;
      • Solar power plant;
      • Purified drinking water facility;
      • Entry gate, tourist facilitation centre; and
      • Other associated facilities or infrastructure, as per requirements of Blue Flag Certification.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations 

  • These are issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which govern the industrial activities along the fragile coastline.
  • CRZ consists of coastal land up to 500 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100 metres along the banks of creeks, estuaries, backwater and rivers where tidal fluctuations occur.
  • As per the latest CRZ 2018 notification, CRZ-I A is environmentally the most sensitive and critical, comprising areas like mangroves, coral reefs, sand dunes, biologically active mudflats, salt marshes, national parks, marine parks, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, turtle nesting grounds, nesting ground for birds, and heritage sites.
  • High Tide Line: HTL means the line on the land up to which the highest water line reaches during the spring tide.

 

“BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services)

Initiated by

Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), MoEFCC have initiated this program under its ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project

Objective

  • 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. 

 

Significance of clean beaches:

  • Clean beaches are the testimony to the environment in the coastal area. 
  • The issue of marine litter and oil spilling has caused disturbances to aquatic life and the Government of India is undertaking various efforts for the sustainable development of coastal regions.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP)

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has launched the ICZMP to promote sustainable development & management of coastal zones through its own wing Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM).
  • SICOM is the national project management unit of India in strategic planning, management, execution, monitoring and successful implementation of the ICZMP-Phase-I.
  • 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. 

International Coastal Cleanup Day 

  • During the third Saturday in September, International Coastal CleanUp Day encourages people to rid beaches of the garbage plaguing beaches
  • Awareness is also spread about preserving and protecting the world’s oceans and waterways.
  • The day got its start in 1986 when Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara organized a Cleanup for Ocean Conservancy. 
  • The first Cleanup consisted of 2,800 volunteers. 
  • Since that time, the Cleanup has grown into an international event in more than 100 countries.

Image source: https://sae.news/2019/12/02/blue-flag-certification-for-beaches/