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0:44 HRS IST

New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday virtually hoisted international blue flags in eight beaches across the country.

These beaches are Kappad (Kerala), Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands). The Flags were also simultaneously hoisted on these beaches physically by state ministers and senior officials of the respective state and union territory.

"Hoisted the International Blue Flag at 8 beaches virtually. It is a proud moment for India that all the 8 beaches which were showcased have been awarded the coveted blue flag. I compliment and congratulate the State Governments, officials and people for this feat," Javadekar tweeted.

Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by "Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark" based on 33 stringent criteria.

India secured the International Blue Flag Certification for these beaches on October 6 when an international jury comprising of member organisations United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), UNESCO, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), etc. announced the award at Copenhagen, Denmark.

While congratulating and lauding the efforts of the state and central government as well as the people, Javadekar said "neat and clean beaches are an indicator that the coastal environment is in good health and the Blue Flag certification is a global recognition of India's conservation and sustainable development efforts".

The environment minister said hundreds of more such beaches will be made Blue Flag in next three-four years and highlighted that cleaning beaches need to be made a Jan Andolan not only for its aesthetic value and tourism prospects but more importantly towards reducing the menace of marine litter and making the coastal environment sustainable.

In an official statement, the Ministry of Environment said, "India started its journey of sustainable development of coastal regions on World Environment Day in June 2018 by launching its beach cleaning campaign I-AM- SAVING-MY-BEACH simultaneously at 13 coastal states and thereafter implementing ministry's coveted program BEAMS(Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services).

"Today, the introduction of BEAMS program in 10 coastal states has resulted into an international level of cleanliness at beaches with over 500 tonnes of solid waste collected, recycled and scientifically disposed at these beaches reducing the menace of marine litter by over 78 per cent and marine plastic by over 83 per cent, it said.

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