- In addition to air and water pollution, India can now add one more category to its pollution worries: beach pollution.
- Tourism and Fishing are contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches, according to a study by the National Centre of Coastal Research (NCCR).
- The NCCR conducted a qualitative analysis of the litter on six different beaches on the eastern and western coasts. It found that plastic litter from tourism alone accounted for 40%-96% of all beach litter.
- While fishing nets were a major contributor, the processing of fish on the beach also produced a lot of litter. Waste from fishing was high in three of the six beaches studied.
- Other than the plastic litter dropped by tourists, similar waste from creeks and inlets made its way into the sea in the monsoon.
- Most of the litter consisted of plastic bottles, cutlery, and thermocol.
- Experts suggest installation of debris booms and fin deflectors upstream as measures to reduce the quantity of floating solid waste entering coastal waters.
- India needs a national marine litter policy to control and manage waste on land and prevent its entry into the marine environment.
- India need to start blue-flagging its beaches. The ‘blue flag’ is a globally recognised eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas that adhere to strict environmental and safety norms.
- The Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha will be the first in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification.
- The tag given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
- It was awarded the honour on World Environment Day on June 5.
- Twelve more beaches in the country are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an Environment Ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, in accordance with the Blue Flag standards.
Blue Flag standards:
- The standards were established by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985.
- It challenges local authorities and beach operators to achieve high standards (33 standards) in the four categories of: water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.
- A beach must be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system.
- Clean water should be available for tourists, apart from international amenities.
- The beach should have facilities for studying the environmental impact around the area.