When was the last time you had some Vitamin Sea? Our country’s beautiful coastline—all 7,517 km of it—is composed of different beautiful beaches, and attracts a steady stream of visitors all through the year.
Now, the beach experience in India is all set to get better for some regions.
As reported in the Hindustan Times, 13 Indian beaches will be conferred with the Blue Flag certification—awarded to beaches that are environment-friendly, clean, and well-equipped with international-standard amenities for tourists. The beaches of Odisha, Maharashtra, and a few other coastal states, will be the first, in India and in Asia, to get the Blue Flag certification.
The Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is spearheading the development of India’s beaches. Arvind Nautiyal, SICOM’s Project head, told the publication that beaches need to be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system, to be environment and tourist-friendly.
So, how will this certification affect you, when you visit a Blue Flag beach next?
1. As a tourist at a Blue Flag beach, you can expect important information relating to coastal zone ecosystems, and sensitive natural areas in the coastal zone displayed at the beach. Information about the bathing water quality, as well as the Blue Flag programme, will be displayed as well.
2. There will be a strict code of conduct, for the beach area. The laws governing beach use will be easily available to you on request. Additionally, five environmental education activities will be on offer, and you can take them up as per your interest.
3. The beaches will be clean and well-maintained. Waste disposal bins will be available in adequate numbers and will be regularly emptied and cleaned. There will also be adequate recycling facilities, on or near the beach. Expect good sanitary facilities, with controlled sewage disposal.
4. Unauthorised camping, driving or dumping will not be allowed. There will be a sustainable means of transportation, promoted around the beach area. As for those of you who take your pets to the beach, there will be strict rules regarding dogs and other domestic animals.
5. For your safety, there will be an adequate number of lifeguards and life-saving equipment at the beach. There will also be first aid, and a steady supply of drinking water will be made available.
6. There will be a safe access area to the beach, and the beach area will be constantly patrolled, to ensure safety and enforce the rules.
7. At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality will have access and toilet facilities for the disabled.
8. All Blue Flag beaches will have a map, that will show the different facilities available, and there will be adequate facilities in place, to prevent conflicts and accidents.
The Blue Flag beach standards were established by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), in 1985. According to the Blue Flag standards, a beach must strictly comply with 33 environment and tourist-related conditions. The initiative began in Paris, and quickly spread through Europe, and even to South Africa. Asia remained untouched, until now.
13 beaches across India, have been chosen for this Blue Flag certification, and the Chandrabhaga beach, on Odisha’s coast, was incidentally the first to complete the tag certification process. Tomorrow, on World Environment Day, it will be awarded the honour.
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In Maharashtra, the Chiwla and Bhogave beaches are being included in this initiative, as is one beach each from Pondicherry, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Blue Flag certification is an attempt to promote sustainable tourism. Hopefully, as visitors to the beaches under the Blue Flag tag, we will be responsible and treat the surroundings with care, so future generations can also learn a lesson or two, in sustainability.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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