New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS): Two more beaches in India have been accorded the coveted international eco-label 'Blue Flag' - Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Puducherry - taking the total to ten, an official statement said on Tuesday.
"This is yet another recognition of India's commitment to protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of the resources," the Environment, Forests & Climate Change Ministry statement said.
The Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark (FEE), which accords the globally recognised eco-label - the Blue Flag certification - has also given re-certification for eight nominated beaches -- Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), which were awarded the Blue Flag certificate last year.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister, Bhupender Yadav expressed happiness and congratulated everyone as he tweeted: "It is another milestone in India's journey towards a Clean and Green India led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi."
The Ministry, in its pursuit of 'Sustainable Development' of the coastal regions of India, embarked upon highly acclaimed & flagship programme 'Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services' (BEAMS), which is one of the initiatives under Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach that it has undertaken for the sustainable development of coastal regions, with a prime objective of protecting and conserving the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of resources.
FEE Denmark conducts regular monitoring and audits for strict compliance of the 33 criteria at all times. A waving "Blue Flag" is an indication of 100 per cent compliance to these 33 stringent criteria and sound health of the beach, the release said.
The objective of BEAMS programme is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, and safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment and regulations.
"In the last three years or so, our Ministry has achieved commendable results in environmental management of these 10 beaches," the release said, and listed some of the efforts: sand dune restoration and nourishment of 95,000 sqm (approx.) with native plantation, reduction in marine litter by 85 per cent and 78 per cent in marine plastic in last three years, scientific & responsible disposal of 750 tonnes of marine litter, improvement in cleanliness level from "C" (poor) to "A++ (outstanding) through scientific measurement system, saving of 1,100 ML/year of municipal water through recycling, three years' database on regular testing of bathing water quality (physical, chemical and biological contamination) and health risk monitoring.
The other efforts included educating approximately 1,25,000 beach goers for responsible behaviour at the beaches, increase in footfall for recreation activities by approx 80 per cent leading to economic development and alternate livelihood opportunities for 500 fishermen families through pollution abatement, safety and services.
The Ministry is further committed to develop and deliver 100 more beaches under its ICZM initiative in the ensuing five years of its vision agenda, the release said.