Blue Flag recognition bodes well for India - GulfToday

Blue Flag recognition bodes well for India

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Beach-India

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Eight Indian beaches have been recommended for Blue Flag International eco-label. These recommendations are done by an independent national jury composed of eminent environmentalists and scientists.

During the build-up to the International Coastal Clean-Up Day, which is celebrated across 100 countries since 1986 on the third Saturday of September, the Indian Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced at a virtual event that for the first time eight beaches of India have been recommended for the coveted International eco-label, the Blue flag certification.

Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world. 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 beaches need to meet various criteria such as quality standards, facilities for waste disposal, disabled-friendliness, first-aid facility, etc. The certification is given by the Denmark-based non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and is the world’s most recognized voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. Stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related criteria need to be met and maintained by applicants.

It is awarded annually to beaches and marinas in FEE member countries. The world-renowned certification is known as an indication of high environmental and quality standards. Forty-seven countries currently participate in the program, and 4,573 beaches, marinas, and boats have this certification.

The eight Indian 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.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said through a video message that the government is committed to clean the beaches across the country. He added that clean beaches are the testimony to the environment in the coastal area. Highlighting the issue of marine litter and oil spilling that has caused disturbances to the aquatic life, he said the Government of India is undertaking various efforts for the sustainable development of coastal regions.

The event also saw the launch of India’s own eco-label ‘Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services’ –BEAMS – by e-hoisting the flag -#IAMSAVINGMYBEACH simultaneously at these eight beaches. It has been launched by the Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM, MoEFCC) under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZM).

In a video message, World Bank’s country director Zunaid Khan applauded India’s efforts towards cleaning up its beaches and said that India with its strategies for sustainable coastal zone management shall act as a lighthouse for other countries in the region.

With a view to protect and conserve the coastal and marine ecosystems and the environment through holistic coastal management, ICZM activities in India aim for a holistic approach with an interactive, dynamic, multidisciplinary, and iterative planning process to promote sustainable development and management of coastal zones through SICOM.

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. The objective of the BEAMS program is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities and stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene and safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment and regulations. This program promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature.

International Coastal Cleanup Day was initiated in 1986 when ocean-lovers organised a ‘Clean-up for Ocean Conservancy’. The first Clean-up consisted of 2800 volunteers. The movement was catalyzed by the passion and spirit of two committed individuals. Back in 1986, Linda Maraniss moved to Texas from Washington, DC, where she had been working for Ocean Conservancy. She had been inspired by the work her Ocean Conservancy colleague Kathy O’Hara was doing on a groundbreaking report called ‘Plastics in the Ocean: More than a Litter Problem’. Linda and Kathy reached out to local businesses and other dedicated ocean-lovers, and planned what would become Ocean Conservancy’s first Cleanup.

Since that time, the Clean-up has grown into an international event in more than 100 countries. It has become a global movement with 6 million volunteers across 90 countries doing their part to keep the coastlines clean. The aim is to encourage people to rid beaches of the garbage plaguing beaches. Awareness is also spread about preserving and protecting the world’s oceans and waterways.



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