In some good news for India, Odisha's Puri beach now becomes the first beach in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification. One of the prestigious ranking given to the beaches or marina, India has managed to receive its very first blue flag tag. The certificate is only given after a beach or marina that is able to fulfil certain criteria related environment-friendliness, cleanliness, amenities and overall sustainability of international standards for the tourists. The tag is given by a Denmark-based organization, Federation of Environment Education (FEE) and this time year Puri beach is one of the selected beaches. What's even better is that the Ministry of Forest and Environment says that apart from Puri about 13 more beaches in India will now have environment-friendly resources to bring them to international standards and ultimately receive the Blue Flag certification.
What is a Blue Flag Beach?
In simple words, the beaches that receive a Blue Flag comply with the highest standard of clean coastlines, sea views and overall environmental sustainability. The Blue Flag certification is given by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and it grades the beaches on the basis of various criteria to check if that beach facilities and safety to match the international standards. Any beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator comes under the certification programme. Issued on an annual basis the certificates are awarded to beaches and marinas of FEE member countries. The intention of the Blue Flag is to encourage work towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas. South Africa is one of the few countries to have many beaches that have been awarded the blue flag.
Blue Flag Beach Criteria
Beaches are awarded the blue flag only on the compliance of the following points.
- Water Quality
- Environmental Education and information
- Safety and services
- Environmental management
To achieve the blue flag certification a beach needs to comply with at least 33 pre-requisites and amongst the above are toilet sanitation, changing rooms availability, first aid centres, solar lighting, parking lots and other amenities that are mandatory.
Puri Sea Beach to become "Blue Flag Beach" (Watch Video)
Ministry of Forest and Environment and the central government are planning to invest Rs 10 crore for the project that will help to bring the other beaches up to the mark as well. An initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change- the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), is planning for the development of India's beaches.