Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg beach eyes international recognition
The Union environment ministry has set June 2020 as the deadline for state governments to ensure that 12 selected beaches in India comply with standards required to qualify for a Blue Flag certification. The certification, awarded by Copenhagen-based non-profit group Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), is an international recognition for the cleanest and most developed coastal areas in the world.
So far, no beach in India has qualified for this certification, while only four beaches in Japan and one in South Korea qualified from Asia this year. With 4,560 beaches, marinas and boating tourism operators receiving the certification, Europe has 76% of these across 45 countries.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued an order on July 12 identifying 12 beaches for the certification. “In order to attain the certification, we have permitted construction of required temporary structures such as toilet facilities, changing rooms, shower panels, water recycling and treatment plants, purified drinking water kiosks, required access and approach roads, and lifeguard watch towers, for these 12 beaches. These facilities are otherwise not permitted under coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas,” said a senior MoEFCC official.
“Blue flag is a 100% commitment to the people and conserving the coastal environment,” said Sanjai Jalla, mission leader and management consultant for the project in India. “We started our journey as early as 2017 and expected India would be the first to receive the certification in Asia. However, since it is a long-drawn process to comply with all criteria and await final declaration, it has taken time. Our aim is to complete all applications by June 2020 and all state governments have been informed about this.”
The total cost for the project – Beach Environment and Aesthetic Managements Services (BEAMS), carried out under the MoEFCC’s Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) – has been pegged at Rs 108 crore. While the estimated infrastructure cost stands at Rs 3.5 crore per beach, Rs 5.5 crore has been set as the services cost per beach.
Jalla said applications for two beaches – Shivrajpur in Gujarat and Ghoghla in Daman and Diu – were filed earlier this year. “Representatives from FEE have already visited these two beaches and begun their auditing process. However, they have a stringent criteria and tedious monitoring process, which includes inspection of long-term water quality measurements,” he said.
In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, coastal zones have to meet and maintain a series of rigorous environmental, educational, sanitary, safety and accessibility criteria. A major criterion for certification involves coastal water being pure enough for swimming. “This is where state governments have to ensure that physical, chemical and biological parameters are well within the limits prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board. Garbage from both, landward and seaward sides, needs to be collected and recycled, while ensuring faecal contamination is zero. These directions have already been issued to separate state governments as mandate,” said Jalla.
For Bhogave beach [one of the selected 12] in Sindhudurg, the tender for development was stalled due to non-availability of required land. “One of the major criteria for declaration involves proper road access and parking facilities. Based on discussions with the district collector, we are shifting the proposed stretch for the road, parking zone, and fresh tenders will be invited,” said Jalla.