The eight Indian beaches which got this tag are Shivrajpur (Dwarka, Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden Beach (Puri, Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
The Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world. In order to qualify for this tag, 33 stringent criteria relating to environmental, bathing water quality, educational, safety, services and accessibility standards must be met by the beaches.
“It is an outstanding feat considering that no ‘Blue Flag’ nation has ever been awarded for eight beaches in a single attempt,” said Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar while announcing the decision of the International Jury.
He said, “This is also a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts… India is also the first country in the Asia-Pacific region which has achieved this feat in just about two years’ time.”
Union environment ministry had last month sent the list of these eight beaches to the International Jury, seeking Blue Flag certification which is accorded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Jury, which takes a final call on this certification, comprises eminent members from the UN Environment Programme, World Tourism Organisation, FEE and IUCN.
Over 4600 beaches, marinas and boats from around 50 countries have, so far, got the Blue Flag certification. Spain has the highest number of Blue Flag tagged sites. India, which started working on getting the tag in 2018, has plans to expand the network of Blue Flag certification to 100 such beaches in the country in the next five years.
In order to achieve this goal, the environment ministry had last month launched India’s own eco-label ‘BEAMS’ (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.
Besides the Blue Flag tag for its eight beaches, India has also been awarded a third prize by the International Jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions. The certification of this kind is considered important for tourism as this tag attracts both domestic and international tourists to these beaches.
As part of its pilot projects to embark on Blue Flag certification programme, India had initially identified 13 beaches which include Bhogave (Maharashtra), Kovalam (Tamil Nadu), Eden (Puducherry), Miramar (Goa) and Bangaram (Lakshadweep). But names of these five were subsequently dropped at the recommendation stage as Indian experts found one or the other relevant qualifying parameters missing at these beaches. “These five will hopefully meet the relevant standards ahead of the next round of recommendation,” said an official.