PANAJI: The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change has suggested the state government to develop Palolem beach so as to meet ‘Blue Flag’ standards set by an international non-governmental organisation.
The Union environment ministry has written to all coastal states to identify/nominate 100 model beaches under the Blue Flag pilot project, and has drawn up a list of the 10 tentative beach segments including Palolem.
The project will be taken up this year to meet the ‘Blue Flag’ standards.
Palolem beach was recently ranked 20th in the Asia list of the annual Travellers’ Choice awards.
The Blue Flag certification will be undertaken on pilot mode funded through the ongoing integrated coastal management programme for beach cleaning and development activity.
The state government has formed beach management committee comprising eight members from the offices of the district collector, municipalities and a person from village/town to oversee the project including tender and certification process.
This committee will also be responsible to protect the interest of locals.
A tripartite agreement between the Society of Integrated Coastal Management (established under the MoEF&CC), respective coastal state or UT and the contractor has to be signed to implement the
The ‘Blue Flag’ programme is introduced by a non-governmental organisation Foundation for Environmental Education, which has 65 branches in six continents. The NGO awards beaches and marinas with Blue Flag certification, when they meeting its stringent standards.
The Blue Flag is an environmental award given to communities that make special efforts to manage their coastal/inland water environment and beaches with respect for the local environment and nature.
The Blue Flag programme has been in existence in Europe since 1987 and outside Europe since 2001 when South Africa joined the programme.
The programme’s website says that over 4,400 beaches in 45 countries have earned this ‘ecological’ label.
A Blue Flag on a beach indicates that it is a clean and accessible beach, and has good water quality and meets high safety standards.
The existence of a Blue Flag shows that authorities work hard to protect local shorelines and ecosystems.
To attain the Blue Flag, the community and its beach operators have to meet 29 criteria covering water and coastal quality, environmental information and education, safety and services, as well as cleanliness and waste management.
The Blue Flag criteria set by the foundation mandate that the beach area is not affected by waste water, or sewage-related discharges, and the water should meet specified limits as regards physical, chemical and microbial contamination.
The Blue Flag criteria, among other requirements, specify that algae vegetation or natural debris should not be left on the beach; waste disposal bins must be available along the beach in adequate numbers and toilets along the beach should have controlled sewage disposal.
The certification also ensures that the bathing water is continuously monitored once in a month for the three different types of bacteria – faecal coliform, total coliform and faecal streptococci.
Water quality details should be displayed at a beach information board.
Under the Blue Flag programme the beach must comply with national regulations regarding access and facilities for disabled persons.
In the Blue Flag-certified beaches, dogs and pets are not allowed to enter the sandy area, with the exception of guide dogs for blind people.
To qualify for the Blue Flag certification, the state government must prepare and display ‘code of conduct’ for the beach area and the laws governing beach use must be easily available to the public upon request.
There must be zoning for swimmers, surfers, windsurfers and motorised craft to prevent conflicts and accidents.
It is pertinent to note here that the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management in its beach carrying capacity report had recommended to the state government to take proactive steps towards promoting sustainable seaside ecotourism.
It had asked the state to join the programme that guarantees conformity to stringent environmental standards for beaches.