International Coastal Clean-up Day: Eight Indian beaches vie for international eco-labelUpdated: Sep 19, 2020, 00:15 IST
Eight Indian beaches complying with the stringent Blue Flag certification criteria have been recommended by the Centre for final consideration before an international jury. No Indian beach has qualified for this certification so far. Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label for the cleanest and most developed coastal areas in the world, awarded by a Denmark-based jury of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The results are expected in less than a month.
According to a report by the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC), the eight beaches that are under consideration are Shivrajpur (Devbhumi Dwarka, Gujarat); Ghoghla (Daman and Diu); Kasarkod (Karwar, Karnataka); Padubidri (Udupi, Karnataka); Kappad (Kozhikode, Kerala); Rushikonda (Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh); Golden beach (Puri, Odisha); and Radhanagar (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). The report – Beach Environment and Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) – was prepared over two years by the Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under MoEFCC. HT has seen the report.
“BEAMs has managed to come up with a beach development model in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. We are expecting the final results from the [Blue Flag] jury by October second week,” said Sanjai Jalla, mission leader of the program. He added that the Centre plans to develop eco-tourism models in 100 beach stretches along India’s coast over the next five years, vying for Blue flag certification. “A process has already been rolled out with pre-assessment scientific studies to identify 20 potential beach locations to be undertaken for development during 2021-22 and 20 beaches thereafter on a year to year basis,” said Jalla.
Blue Flag is known for its stringent criteria. Only a few beaches in Asia have been conferred the certification.
BEAMS found that the eight beaches from India had witnessed an average reduction of 82- 84% in marine litter since 2018. Cleanliness was calculated based using a beach litter measuring system (BLMS) wherein managers were appointed to conduct daily audits. For all marine litter, the quantity reduced from 83,198 kg in June 2018 to 14,929 kg in May 2020. Similarly, plastic litter fell from 14,970 kg in June 2018 to 2,420 kg across 10 Indian beaches in May 2020. The details were released ahead of International Coastal Clean-up Day celebrated on third Saturday in September.
“For the Blue Flag certification, the cleanliness levels have to be maintained at A+ or A. Using BLMS, we categorised beach litter into bulk (over 10 cm) and fine (less than 10 cm), and divided the beach into transects of 100 sq. m for bulk and 1 sqm for fine each to calculate litter before and after clean-ups. Tourists said these eight beaches were among some of the cleanest in the world,” said Jalla.
MoEFCC had originally identified 13 pilot beaches for the certification in 2018. However, work on Bangram beach, Lakshadweep island, Bhogwe beach, Sindhudurg, and Miramar beach is likely to be taken up for development and certification next year. “Work at Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu) and Eden (Puducherry) are underway, and will be ready by December 2020,” said Jalla.
Other developments across eight beaches, which have been identified with photographic evidence in the BEAMS report, are categorised into beach amenities, waste management, renewable energy, safety and security, recreational facilities, testing of bathing water quality, biodiversity conservation and maintenance of beach ecosystems.
“Critical marine biodiversity data was collected through scuba diving to assess coral bleaching, diseases and litter and benthic sessile invertebrate fauna counts, fish counts and substrate type in our analysis,” said Jalla.