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Beach pollution in India

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Beach pollution in India


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Geographical locations of important beaches, blue flag project.
  • For Mains: Beach pollution- concerns, effects, challenges and measures needed.


Context: The National Centre of Coastal Research (NCCR) has released a report on beach pollution in India.


Highlights of the report:

The NCCR conducted a qualitative analysis of the litter on six different beaches on the eastern and western coasts. The study notes that beach pollution is on rise in the country.

  • Tourism and fishing are the biggest culprits, contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches.
  • The study found that plastic litter from tourism alone accounted for 40%-96% of all beach litter.
  • At Chennai’s Elliot’s Beach, for instance, plastics left by tourists accounted for 40% of all the litter, while at Gopalpur in Odisha, it was as high as 96%. As for the other four beaches, plastics formed 66% of the overall litter on Fort Kochi Beach, 60% at Karnataka’s Karwar beach, 87% at Visakhapatnam’s R.K. Beach, and 81% at Andaman Island’s Rangachang beach.
  • After tourism, fishing was the next biggest source of litter. While fishing nets were a major contributor, the processing of fish on the beach also produced a lot of litter.
  • Also, the proportion of biomedical litter was high in urban areas, such as Elliot’s Beach and Fort Kochi Beach.
  • 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.


Way ahead- need of the hour:

India needs a national marine litter policy to control and manage waste on land and prevent its entry into the marine environment.

  • Experts suggest installation of debris booms and fin deflectors upstream as measures to reduce the quantity of floating solid waste entering coastal waters.
  • India also needs 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.


More about ‘Blue Flag’ project:

Launched in December 2017 by the Environment Ministry, the prime objective of the project is to enhance standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches. Under the project, each state or union territory has been asked to nominate a beach which will be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme.


Criteria for certification:

To achieve the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to strictly comply with 33 environment and tourism-related conditions. The standards were established by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985. For example- 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.


Sources: the hindu.