New Delhi: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday said eight beaches of the country have been recommended for the coveted 'Blue Flag' international eco-label.
He said clean beaches are a testimony to the good environment in coastal areas and India's many beaches are among the best in the world.
Speaking on the eve of 'International Coastal Clean-Up Day' celebrated across 100 countries since 1986, Javadekar said for the first time, eight beaches of India have been recommended for the Blue Flag certification.
Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by an international agency 'Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark' based on 33 stringent criteria in four major heads--environmental education and information, bathing water quality, environment management and conservation and safety and services in the beaches.
The 'Blue Flag' beach is an eco-tourism model endeavouring to provide the tourists/beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, safe and healthy environment and sustainable development of the area.
"I am very happy that people around the globe are launching 'Coastal Clean Up Day' today. We have also come up with our own hashtag - 'I am saving my beach'. Clean beaches are a testimony to good environment in the coastal area. It is very important, otherwise the problem of marine litter and many other problems of spilling oil, cause disturbances to aquatic life.
"We, today, are taking a vow to clean up our beaches and I am very proud that we have started our highly acclaimed programme BEAMS. So we are cleaning the beaches and today our beaches are much cleaner and many are among the best in the world. Therefore, we all must vow to clean up our beaches," Javadekar said in a video message.
He also announced India's own eco-label 'Beach Environment and Aesthetics Management Services' (BEAMS) under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.
The eight beaches recommended under the BEAMS are Shivrajpur in Gujarat, Ghoghla in Daman and Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri in Karnataka, Kappad in Kerala, Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, Golden in Odisha and Radhanagar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The recommendations are done by an independent national jury composed of eminent environmentalists and scientists. Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world, the environment ministry said.
BEAMS is one of the several other projects of ICZM that the central government is undertaking for sustainable development of coastal regions, striving for the globally recognised and coveted eco-label 'Blue Flag', it said.
A flag hoisting program was conducted simultaneously at these eight beaches virtually by the ministry and physically at the beaches by respective states/UTs through its MLAs and/or Chairman of Beach Management Committees, the ministry said.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Environment Secretary R P Gupta said high standards are being maintained to clean the beaches to keep the environment safe and in the next four to five years, 100 more beaches will be cleaned.
In a video message, World Bank's country director Zunaid Khan applauded India's efforts towards cleaning up its beaches and said India with its strategies for sustainable coastal zone management shall act as a lighthouse for other countries in the region, the ministry said in a statement.
Elaborating on BEAMS, the ministry said, its objective 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 and stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene and safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment and regulations.