Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Sunapur beach in Ganjam was accorded the coveted International Blue Flag Certification for 2023-24 by Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), Denmark.

Following the accreditation, Sunapur beach located on the confluence of Bahuda river and Bay of Bengal, became the second such beach in Odisha after Puri.

As per reports, the certification is based on 33 stringent criteria in four major heads i.e. (i) Environmental Education and Information, (ii) Bathing Water Quality, (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services in the beaches.

“The achievement of Blue Flag certification is a testament to the collective efforts of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) Odisha, District Beach Management Committee, Ganjam and the local community. Sunapur Beach is now not only a destination for pristine beauty but also a model for sustainable coastal tourism,” the Odisha Department of Forest, Environment and Climate Change said in a statement.

“The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an Eco-tourism model striving to provide the tourists/beach goers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, safe and healthy environment and sustainable development of the area,” the statement added.

Notably, the works for the beach development started in 2021 and completed in 2023, under Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) Odisha. The Blue Flag Beach stretches over 800 meters with facilities like specially designed wheelchairs for differently abled persons, zero liquid waste discharge, lifeguard towers, trained paramedic staff to provide first aid and CCTV coverage of the area.

It is being managed by the District Beach Management Committee, Ganjam.

The Blue Flag programme was initially started in Europe in 1987. The certification is awarded by an international jury comprising members of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), besides FEE annually.