Asia’s first beach with the Blue Flag certification

Odisha’s Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast is the first beach in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification — the tag given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists. It was awarded as an honour on World Environment Day on June 5.

Twelve more beaches in the country are to be developed into plastic-free zones with international amenities. These beaches are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an Environment Ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, in accordance with the Blue Flag standards.

These 12 beaches include – Shivrajpur (Dwarka) Gujarat, Ghoghla (Diu) Daman & Diu, Bhogve (Sindhudurg) Maharashtra, Miramar (Panjim) Goa, Padubidri (Udupi) Karnataka, Kappad (Kozhikode) Kerala, Emerald (Karaikal) Puducherry, Mahabalipuram Tamil Nadu, Rushikonda (Vishakhapatnam), Andhra Pradesh, Tajpur (Purbi Midnapur)West Bengal, Radhanagar (Havlock) Andaman Nicobar and Bangaram, Lakshdweep.

With “I AM SAVING MY BEACH” (Intensive Beach Cleaning & Environment Education) campaign, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has kickstarted the journey towards certifying these beaches for Eco-label at par with Blue Flag beaches in the world. This campaign was undertaken by team of SICOM-MoEFCC at these beaches concurrently for an extensive cleaning & environment education drive, coinciding with the World Environment Day celebrations.

Hundreds of volunteers joined these drives, coming from local communities, fishermen society, school children, scouts, and officials from Coast Guard, Navy, officials from tourism, environment & forest departments, offices of District Collectors, Gram Panchayat, as well as municipalities and cleaned their respective beaches with tools, equipment made of environment friendly materials and collected, segregated and recycled tons of littered garbage (majority of which was plastic) in these beaches. The team of SICOM also conducted sessions on environment education on topics such as (i) Coasts, their importance in bio- diversity & our responsibilities (ii) Environmental Ecosystems & their importance in our life and (iii) Pollution – how it happens & its ill-effects on bio-diversity.

#IAMSAVINGMYBEACH is a national level campaign that will be undertaken periodically in these nominated pilot beaches for “Blue Flag” certification journey.

“BLUE FLAG” has very stringent 33 criteria to be complied based on which a beach is certified and permitted to hoist their flag in these beaches. The moment a “BLUE FLAG” is hoisted in a beach, the mention is made in the global headquarters of Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) in Copenhagen, Denmark and thereby on the World Tourism Map. FEE-nominated representatives will conduct regular monitoring & audits for compliance and thus, concerted efforts are required to qualify for Blue Flag Certification