VISAKHAPATNAM: Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam Rushikonda beach has been conferred with the ‘Blue Flag’ eco-label, which recognizes the overall quality of a beach under the four categories of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.
“Visakhapatnam’s Rushikonda beach has been conferred with the ‘Blue Flag’,” AP Tourism principal secretary Rajat Bhargava confirmed to IANS. Rushikonda is one of the eight beaches which won this accolade, in the very first attempt made by India. Other seven include, Shivrajpur in Gujarat, Ghogla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Golden (Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman).
‘Blue Flag’ certification is given by the international non-governmental and non-profit entity Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). ‘Blue Flag’ certification started in France in 1985, promoting sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas.
Local authorities and beach operators are encouraged to achieve high standards in the four categories of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety. All beaches vying for this recognition must meet 33 criteria, such as displaying Blue Flag Programme and other FEE eco-label information, environmental education activities and display of bathing water quality.
Others include display of information about the local ecosystem, environmental elements and cultural site, a map indicating different facilities and a code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws and regulations. Likewise, no industrial or waste water sewage must run into the beach and no algal vegetation or natural debris must be left on the beach, among others.
Government created Beach Aesthetic Management Services (BEAMS) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to prepare the shortlisted eight Indian beaches to achieve the ‘Blue Flag’.
Rushikonda beach attracts nearly 20,000 people daily for walking, swimming, craft, kayaking, picnics and fishing by locals. The new recognition catapults the beach’s statue internationally.