Mrunal Manmay Dash

Puri: Few months after the Puri beach received Blue Flag certificate as a mark for up keeping of cleanliness and coastal conservation, the pilgrim town is once again gearing up to retain the coveted tag this coming year.

In August 2019, Puri was ranked 4th on the list of 12 Blue Flag beaches in the country after being nominated for the certification by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.

As per the programme, the authorizing agency, Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Denmark will visit Puri beach in April 2020 once again for inspection and ahead of their tour, extensive preparations for maintaining cleanliness are on full swing.

As part of the arrangements, infrastructure facilities like eco-friendly bamboo made toilets and changing rooms, swings for the children, drinking water fountains on the beach, and CCTV coverage of major junctions on the beach are already in place.

Notably, there are as many as 33 criteria that must be met by beaches and marinas to qualify for Blue Flag certification and one of them is ‘environment awareness programme on coastal conservation'. Many school children participated in one such programme which was organised in Puri on Sunday.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of the event, Puri Collector, Balwant Singh said, “I am quite confident that Puri beach which stands at 4th rank nationally will get the certification next year too.”

The Director of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) Odisha, Ashok Kumar Sahoo said, “The major benefit of a Blue Flag beach is that it will be placed in all major tourist maps of the world and visitors would know that we have an international standard beach right here in Odisha.”

“The last time I came here, Puri was an ordinary beach with no arrangements for the convenience of the tourists, but this time I could see a drastic change. It is gradually being transformed into an eco and tourist-friendly beach now," said a tourist Sharmistha Mukherjee.

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