Goa’s plan to get ‘Blue Flag’ certified beaches encounters ‘unclean’ waters
Goa’s efforts to have at least two of its beaches vying for the prestigious ‘Blue Flag Certification’ have encountered choppy -- or in this case ‘unclean’-- waters with officials admitting that they are still some way off in ensuring that the standard of water quality is ready to meet those set by the certification agency.
Goa’s Tourism Director Menino D’Souza said that water quality was the “main issue” that was in the way of Goa being ready to apply for the certification and that with regard to other requirements the state could put them in place fairly quickly.
“Water quality is the main issue, otherwise I think on all the other issues -- infrastructure (facilities), signages -- we are quite ahead, so our beaches are almost to that standard except for a few interventions,” D’Souza said.
The Blue Flag Programme for beaches, marinas and tourism boats is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organization FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education) Denmark. The Blue Flag Programme challenges local authorities and beach operators to achieve high standards in the four categories of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.
If the minimum criteria as stipulated is met, the beach is granted the ‘Blue Flag Certification’ that goes a long way in helping tourists deciding which beach destinations they should visit.
According to the Goa State Pollution Control Board which began monitoring water quality at ten beaches across the length of Goa since June 2018, total coliform levels exceeds the prescribed limit at almost all locations.
At the Miramar beach, which is one of Goa’s beaches that is seeking the certification, levels of coliform (bacteria count in the water) ranged between 23 to 2200 MPN (Most probable number)/100mL. Blue Flag criteria demand that the levels of coliform should not exceed 250 MPN/100mL.
Other beaches like that of Tiracol, Calangute, Morjim and Vagator in North Goa and Mobor, Baina, Galgibaga and Colva too threw up similar numbers.
D’Souza also says that Goa will need to also convince locals about its efforts to avail the certification.
“There is a misconception with regard to what is Blue Flag. There is no “development,” only certification for which we require a lot of interventions. For that we have to bring it to the public and then we can initiate change,” D’Souza said.