Dotted with small rock formations and lined with beautiful coconut palms, the Kappad Beach, away from the hustle and bustle of Kozhikode town in Kerala, stands a real chance to win the prestigious ‘Blue Flag’ certification this year if it is able to prove that it meets the highest standards of cleanliness and environmental protection. No beach in India currently has a Blue Flag certification.
An order by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change last week identified Kappad Beach among 12 such beaches in the country for shortlisting to the Blue Flag certification programme. The other beaches are Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Daman and Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod (Karnataka), Padubidri (Karnataka), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar).
To claim the certification, the Union Ministry declared that specific facilities as part of infrastructure creation would be permitted in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) areas of the beaches subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL). These facilities include drinking water kiosks, changing rooms, container-based toilet blocks, off-grid solar PV panels, portable bamboo made seating benches, sit-out umbrellas, watchtowers and beach information hoardings among others.
The Blue Flag is handed out by the non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and beaches in order to receive it have to pass stringent criteria. Ensuring bathing water equality, adequate sewage disposal facilities, monitoring of the health of coral reefs, following of regulations concerning dogs and other domesticated animals and adequate lifeguards are some of the criteria. Spain has the most number of Blue Flag beaches followed by Turkey and Greece. The only two countries in southeast Asian region that have Blue Flag beaches are Japan and South Korea.
At the Kappad Beach, construction of bamboo toilets and watchtower is in progress. Stone-paved walkways are also being built for easy access of tourists to the beach.