The principal indicator of coastal environmental quality and management is a “clean” beach. However, India’s coastal region is particularly vulnerable to litter build-up. The presence of such waste degrades not just the aesthetic appeal of beaches, but also significantly diminishes their recreational (commercial) value. In order to achieve the “Sustainable Development” of India’s coastal regions, the Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) launched the “BEAMS” initiative (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services). This was done in order to achieve the coveted international eco-label “Blue flag” awarded by The Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) Denmark.
The FEE in Denmark awards the Blue Flag certification, which is a worldwide eco-level tag. At all times, FEE Denmark monitors and audits for strict adherence to the 33 criteria. A beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator receives the certification. It functions as an environmental label. It is given only once a year. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Danish NGO Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) forms the jury that awards the “Blue Flag” label. The Blue Flag programme began in France in 1985 and expanded to other parts of the world in 2001. Through four primary areas: environmental management, water quality, environmental education, and safety, the programme acknowledges and encourages sustainable development throughout freshwater and marine water bodies.

On World Environment Day in June 2018, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change began the sustainable development of coastal regions by launching a beach cleaning programme named “I am saving my beach” across 13 coastal states. BEAMS was later introduced by the Ministry.

BEAMS is an Indian program that focuses on the long-term development of India’s coastal regions. It’s part of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) effort. The primary goal of ICZM is to conserve and protect coastal and marine ecosystems by using a holistic approach to resource management.

The BEAMS program’s goal is to reduce pollution in coastal waters and beaches, promote sustainable beach development, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and encourage local governments and stakeholders to strive for and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, safety, and security for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment norms and regulations. This initiative is unusual in that it encourages beach tourism and recreation in complete harmony with nature.

The world’s cleanest and hygienic beaches are known as Blue Flag beaches. The BEAMS program’s major goal is to reduce pollution in marine waters, preserve cleanliness and sanitation, as well as tourist safety, and safeguard coastal ecosystems and natural resources.

In October 2020, an International Jury comprised of eminent members viz. UNEP, UNWTO, FEE, and IUCN awarded India’s 8 beaches, spread across five states and two union territories, the “BLUE FLAG” Certification, as well as a 3rd Prize under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions. Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (AP), Golden (Puri-Odisha), and Radhanagar (A&N Islands) are the beaches that have been granted the “BLUE FLAG”.

The Indian Environment Ministry said on September 21, 2021that two more beaches in India have been received the ‘Blue Flag’ certification, bringing the total number of such beaches in the country to ten. Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Puducherry are the two new beaches that will be certified this year, according to the ministry.

The rest of the eight beaches which received the “Blue Flag Certification” on October 6, 2020, last year, have also been re-certified by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE). Shivrajpur Beach in Gujarat, Ghoghla Beach in Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri Beach in Karnataka, Kappad Beach in Kerala, Rushikonda Beach in Andhra Pradesh, Golden Beach in Odisha, and Radhanagar Beach in Andaman and Nicobar.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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