BHUBANESWAR: In a major boost to tourism in Odisha, the Golden beach in Puri has been accorded the prestigious 'Blue Flag' tag.
The Blue Flag certification is a highly recognised eco-label in which a beach has to meet 33 criteria fixed by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), Denmark.
A 870-metre stretch from Digabareni square to the back of Mayfair Hotel in the Pilgrim town has been developed as Blue Flag beach under the World Bank-funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) of the State Forest and Environment Department and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Core infrastructure such as public toilets, changing and shower room, watch towers, solar lighting system, sitting arrangements, demarcation of safe swimming zone besides mechanised pollution abetment services, beach safety and security measures have been developed on the stretch at an investment of Rs 7.88 crore.
Besides, peripheral activities such as approach road, fencing with plantation, parking, sand sculptures, water supply, jogging track, installation of CCTV cameras and public address system have been executed by the State Government through the Project Management Unit of ICZMP at a cost Rs 3.34 crore.
Puri beach is one of the eight beaches in the country that has been accorded the coveted eco-label. The other seven beaches that secured this recognition are Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod (Karnataka), Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh) and Radhanagar (Andaman).
Mission Leader of Blue flag beaches of India Sanjai Jalla said India has done exceptionally well by securing all eight beaches.
"This 100 per cent performance in its maiden attempt is an outstanding feat as no Blue flag nation has ever achieved this feat," Jalla said. In addition to this, he said India has also bagged third position in best practices on pollution control in its coastal regions.
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate that conceived an integrated coastal management scheme named BEAMS (Beach Management Services) encouraging coastal states and union territories to seek this certification will host a formal Blue flag hoisting ceremony soon, said SICOM National Project Director Arvind Nautiyal.