Bhubaneswar: A “Clean” beach is the primary indicator of coastal environmental quality & management and economic health of beach tourism. However, coastal regions in India are highly susceptible to litter accumulation. The presence of such debris not only affects the aesthetic appeal of beaches negatively but also reduces their recreational (tourism) value drastically.
In order to plan sustainable tourism and healthy coastal management, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India have conceived an integrated coastal management scheme viz. BEAMS (also referred to as Beach Management Services) to reduce existing pollutants on beaches and to aspire & achieve such high international standards like “BLUE FLAG” in India. Government of Odisha through State Project Management Unit (SPMU), Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) will be taking up a pilot project in Chandrabhaga, Konark beach.
The main objective of setting up BEAMS programme is to promote sustainable development in coastal regions of India for the beach management authorities to strive to achieve high standards in four categories of:
1) Environmental Management including cleanliness, solid waste management in beaches,2) Environmental Education & increased awareness amongst beach users.3) Safety & Security of beach users.4) Bathing Water Quality Standards for beach users.
It primarily focuses on “Beach Rejuvenation Plan” that also means development of beach facilities, reduction and regulations of beach littering and undertaking day to day cleaning operations in beaches. It is also to ensure & control various types of pollutions in beaches by effective solid waste management, utilization and bring significant awareness on environment protection & sensitize beachgoers of ecosystems and biodiversity.
In continuation of our pursuit of ensuring sound health of our coastline, Society of Integrated Coastal Management-Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (SICOM-MoEF&CC) under Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZM plan) decided to set up one pilot beach in each of the coastal states & UTs in phase-I to be developed in line with “BLUE FLAG” certification requirements so that dual objectives of (i) protection of coastal degradation and (ii) developing eco-tourism in India, can be achieved.
To kick start the proceeding in this regard, tenders for setting up beach facilities & beach services pertaining to pollution abatement & security & surveillance have been published for the Gujarat, Maharashtra, Diu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa regions and formal “National Workshop” on the subject has been organized in Delhi in Feb’2018.
“BLUE FLAG” initiative focuses primarily on environment education, availability of tourist amenities, safety & security of tourists and overall management of coastal environment. For this SICOM has planned to provide and facilitate the certification process by way of developing required infrastructure in these 13 state nominated beaches and maintain cleanliness and environment standards as per “BLUE FLAG” criteria. These facilities will be developed in an area of 500 to 600 meters initially depending upon the availability of land surface in a given beach. In Odisha the State Government has nominated Chandrabhaga beach (Konark) as pilot Blue Flag beach. Necessary core development will be done by the SICOM and peripheral activities will be undertaken by SPMU, ICZMP, Odisha. The selected beach is about a stretch of 1.115 k.m. starting from the present beach and extended towards its southward direction. SPMU, ICZMP, Odisha has engaged State Pollution Control Board, Odisha for sampling and estimation of Bathing Water Quality (20 nos.) as per the requirement of SICOM. NAC, Konark will be responsible for its day to day maintenance activity and overall coordination of development will be carried out by SPMU, ICZMP, Odisha. Some of the important provisions being facilitated in the BEAMS programme for beach goers (tourists) are listed below:
i. Container based “Bio Toilet Blocks” enclosed in Bamboo Housingii. Container based “Changing Rooms + Shower Panels” enclosed in Bamboo Housing iii. Grey Water Treatment Plant for conservation of water.iv. Renewable energy through “Off Grid Mini Solar Power Plant” for electricity. v. “Purified Drinking Water Facility” free of costvi. Adequate number of “Stainless Steel Litter Bins” vii. “Seating Benches”viii. Solid Waste Management through “Composting unit” and mechanical raking of sand. ix. “Sit-out Umbrella Thatch” with Recliner chairs.x. “LED Street Lights” in beach area.xi. “Pathways/Jogging track” for recreational activitiesxii. “Outdoor Fitness Equipment” for recreational activities xiii. “Amphibian Wheel Chair” for disabled touristsxiv. “Safety Flags” as per the ISO 20712 standard.xv. Lifeguards & “CCTV cameras” for constant vigil on beach users especially swimmers. xvi. Beach cleaners, cleaning equipment and materialsxvii. Regulations measures for ingress of stray animals in these beaches. xviii. Approach/access road,xix. Parking facilities,xx. Plantations (coconut/palm), hammocks & landscaping on sand dunes and xxi. Aesthetic measures for beautification of beachesxxii. Watch towers for constant surveillance & monitoringxxiii. Security guards.xxiv. Beach information boards & beach layout maps
In addition to these provisions, SICOM-MoEF is also planning to work closely with local authorities (States/UTs) for environment education and awareness in coastal regions of India through periodic events & campaigns in next 2 years.
Significant amount of work has been initiated by SICOM-MoEF under ICZM plans and there is awareness amongst all local stakeholders to bring harmony in bio diversity and environment protection and BEAMS is another MoEF effort towards this ongoing battle in coastal regions.
“BLUE FLAG” has very stringent 33 criteria to be complied based on which a beach is certified and permitted to hoist their flag in these beaches. The moment a “BLUE FLAG” is hoisted in a beach, the mention is made in the global headquarters of FEE (Foundation for Environment Education) in Copenhagen, Denmark.Tourists who are familiar with the “BLUE FLAG” beaches and its standards then plan their holidays in that country.
FEE and their nominated representative/s would be conducting regular monitoring & audits for compliance by local authorities and therefore efforts are concentrated to ensure that we qualify all these 33 criteria without fail and achieve our end objective of pollution abatement and economic growth in coastal tourism.
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM)-Ministry of Forest, Environment & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has planned to provide and facilitate the blue flag certification process by way of developing required infrastructure in Odisha Government nominated beach (Chandrabhaga) and maintain cleanliness and environment standards as per the BLUE FLAG criteria. SICOM and SPMU, ICZMP, Odisha has planned an intensive beach cleaning from 3rd to 5th June, 2018 to generate awareness on Coasts, it’s importance in bio-diversity & our responsibilities, Environmental Education & impact of pollution coinciding with World Environment Day. During intensive beach cleaning the nature of waste and measuring Beach Litter will be undertaken considering Beach Litter Indicator criteria to estimate the rating of cleanliness of the beach.
Representatives & Scientists will join from SICOM-MoEF&CC, New Delhi, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai & State Project Management Unit (SPMU), ICZMP, Odisha in this endeavor. The volunteers for beach cleaning and awareness programme will join from relevant Departments, Associations, local Stakeholders, fishermen community and students from schools and colleges to participate the programme. ICZMP, Odisha will coordinate the overall beach cleaning programme and Executive Officer, Konark NAC will undertake the day to day management of beach cleaning. The Collector & District Magistrate will inaugurate the campaign at Chandrabhaga on 3rd June, 2018 at 09:30 a.m. Let’s join the movement to keep our Chandrabhaga beach clean.