Emerald Beach at Karaikal has been edged out of the reckoning for the Blue Flag certification under a programme initiated in 2018 by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to propel tourism with improved amenities.
A team of experts from the Ministries of Science and Technology and Environment and Forests had visited Karaikal two years ago to determine whether the Emerald Beach measured up to the requirements of the certification by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education based on 33 stringent criteria under the four heads: environmental education and information; bathing water quality; environment management and conservation; and safety and services.
The Emerald Beach is acclaimed in tourism circles as one of the best in south Tamil Nadu. However, the team had also taken note of the report of the Central Pollution Control Board that the Arasalar river in Karaikal, a tributary of the Cauvery, is polluted with nitrate and chromium owing to the mixing of sewage and industrial waste.
Eight beaches in the country were awarded the certification in October. They are Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden Beach (Puri, Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman and Nicobar Islands).
The Emerald Beach did not figure among the 13 pilot beaches identified for the certification. The five other pilot beaches were Bhogave (Maharashtra), Kovalam (Tamil Nadu), Eden (Puducherry), Miramar (Goa) and Bangaram (Lakshadweep).
According to an official of Puducherry’s Tourism Department, the cases of Emerald Beach and other beaches in Puducherry are still under consideration of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The Ministry’s target is to develop at least 50-100 Blue Flag beaches in the next five years.
With the Blue Flag certification, the Society of Integrated Coastal Management, a body of the Ministry, strives for sustainable development of the coastal regions through its flagship programme BEAMS (Beach Environment and Aesthetics Management Services) under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project. The objectives are to control pollution in coastal waters and on beaches, promote sustainable development of beach amenities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and encourage local authorities and stakeholders to maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, safety and security for beach-goers, in accordance with coastal environment norms.