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Special Content


Issue no 33, 12 - 18 November 2022

Blue Beaches India's Journey towards Sustainability

 

The success of India's tourism sector hinges of the country's unique endowments of biodiversity, forests, rivers, and its rich culture and heritage. The challenges in this sector lie in successfully preserving these in their original form, and making them accessible to domestic and international travelers, together with safeguarding the economic interest and heritage of local communities. While the world is now emphasizing on 'sustainable development' in view of the adverse impact of human activity on climate, the same principle applies to the development of tourism sector as well. It has become necessary to ensure that the negative impact of activities related to tourism is not enlarged unrealistically and the sustainable development of tourist sites is maintained. India being a front-runner in the global action on climate change, has adopted a number of measures to promote ecofriendly and sustainable tourism. In recognition of India's commitment to protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of the resources, the globally recognized and the coveted International eco-label 'Blue Flag' has been accorded by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) to two new beaches - Minicoy Thundi Beach and Kadmat Beach - both in Lakshadweep. This takes the number of Indian beaches certified as 'Blue Flag' to 12.

India's Blue Beaches: The Thundi Beach is one of the most pristine and picturesque beaches in the Lakshadweep archipelago where white sand is lined by turquoise blue water of the lagoon. It is a paradise for swimmers and tourists alike. The Kadmat Beach is especially popular with cruise tourists who visit the island for water sports. It is a paradise for nature lovers with its pearl white sand, blue lagoon waters, its moderate climate and friendly locals. Both the beaches have designated staff for beach cleanliness and maintenance; and for safety and security of swimmers. Both the beaches comply with all the 33 criteria mandated by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE). The other Indian beaches in the blue list are ShivrajpurGujarat, Ghoghla- Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri Karnataka, Kappad- Kerala, Rushikonda - Andhra Pradesh, Golden Beach- Odisha, Radhanagar- Andaman and Nicobar, Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Puducherry

What is Blue Flag Certification?

The mission of FEE's Blue Flag is to promote sustainability in the tourism sector, through environmental education, environmental protection and other sustainable development practices. In order to qualify for this prestigious award, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related criteria must be met and maintained. Over 5,000 beaches, marinas, and tourism boats in 48 countries have been awarded the label so far. Started back in 1987, the Blue Flag programme is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Blue Flag also campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment, health threats, and depletion of natural resources, environmental threats, pollution and general environmental degradation. The Blue Flag engages and contributes to all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In India, under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) has piloted Beach Environment & Aesthetic Management Service (BEAMS) programme. Under this programme, various activities related to pollution abatement, beach awareness, aesthetics, safety, surveillance services and environment education, etc., have been done at identified beaches aimed to achieve international standards for Blue Flag certification

What is BEAMS?

Conceived by the Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under MoEFCC, the objective of BEAMS is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and challenge local authorities and stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene and safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment regulations. This programme promotes beach recreation in absolute harmony with nature A clean beach is the primary indicator of coastal environmental quality, management and economic health of beach tourism. BEAMS aims to reduce pollutants, promote sustainable development and strive for high standards in the areas of (i) environmental management (ii) environmental education (iii) bathing water quality (iv) safety and security services scientifically.

In the last few years, the MoEFCC has achieved commendable results in environmental management of the Blue Flag beaches. Some of them are enumerated below:

1.       Sand dune restoration and nourishment of 95,000 sqm (approx.) with native plantation

2.       Reduction in marine litter by 85 per cent and 78 per cent in marine plastic in the last 3 years

3.       Scientific and responsible disposal of 750 tonnes of marine litter.

4.       Improvement in cleanliness level from 'C' (poor) to 'A++' (outstanding) through scientific measurement system

5.       Saving of 1100 ML/year of municipal water through recycling

6.       3 years' database on regular testing of bathing water quality (physical, chemical and biological contamination) and health risk monitoring

7.       Approx. 1,25,000 beach goers have been educated for responsible behaviour at the beaches

8.       Increase in footfall for recreation activities by approximately 80 per cent leading to economic development

9.       Alternate livelihood opportunities for 500 fishermen families through pollution abatement, safety & services

 

 

Compiled by Annesha Banerjee and Anuja Bhardwajan

Source: PIB/BlueFlag. global/Incredible India