Beaches in urban India are widely recognized as popular tourist destinations all year round. The coastal areas of Visakhapatnam, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, Kerala, and Odisha have gained significant attention from tourists worldwide, leading to a substantial influx of visitors. The presence of these pristine beaches not only serves as a source of income for many coastal communities but also plays a crucial role in boosting the local economy.
The beachline across different regions is encountering a range of issues such as pollution, overcrowding due to high tourist influx, and inadequate upkeep. The presence of marine litter poses a significant threat to the marine and coastal ecosystem thus hampering tourism. Citizens and Urban Local Bodies are growing increasingly conscious of this threat. Joggers and runners across the country are embracing the practice of plogging on beaches, which entails picking up litter while jogging or running. This activity not only helps in keeping the beaches clean but also promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Efforts are being made by the local authorities and community groups to enhance waste management and sanitation on the beaches. Regular beach cleanup drives and restoration activities are being carried out to maintain the cleanliness of the beaches. Additionally, the ULBs are organizing various awareness programs to educate people about the significance of preserving natural resources and marine life.
These initiatives are being undertaken as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, which aims to promote cleanliness and hygiene in urban areas. Following the protocols for clean, safe, and environment-friendly beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators, India has 12 Blue Flag Beaches namely, Odisha’s Golden Beach, Gujarat’s Shivrajpur Beach, Kappad Beach of Kerala, Diu’s Ghoghla Beach, Radhanagar Beach in Andaman & Nicobar, Karnataka’s Kasadgod & Padubidri beaches, Rushikonda Beach of Andhra Pradesh, TN’s Kovalam Beach, Eden Beach of Puducherry, Lakshwadeep’s Minicoy Thundi & Kadmat beaches.
From the sandy shores of Mumbai to the coastal regions of Vizag, Chennai, and Odisha, various efforts are underway not only to maintain the cleanliness of the beaches but also to engage corporate and community volunteers in supporting these endeavors. These initiatives aim to promote the sustainable upkeep of the beachfront by implementing mechanized beach cleaning techniques or conducting night cleaning operations.
Yuva Tourism Club often conducts beach cleaning drives in Mumbai to free the beaches and ocean from plastic, Afroz Shah Foundation is also involved in many beach cleaning activities in various areas. Along with 900 Swachh volunteers they recently joined the beach cleaning activity at Versova beach and removed 80,000 kgs of waste and over 7000 Ganesh idols.
Bhumi, a volunteer-based non-profit organization in Chennai, organizes beach cleanup drives and awareness programs on marine litter. They have conducted such drives in Vettuvankeni coastal stretch and Besant Nagar beach.
Environmentalist Foundation of India conducts cleanliness drives on the coastlines of Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Kolkata. Initiatives by the Mumbai-based Project Mumbai include Jalllosh-Clean Coasts.
During this initiative, they cleaned nine beach fronts, two rivers, and two mangrove forests. They collected over 16,000 Kg of waste from these locations. They also conduct community-driven activities.
The Eco Vizag Campaign, similar to other coastal regions in India, has implemented various initiatives to combat pollution and maintain the cleanliness of its coastline. Mumbai's Clean Coast Mumbai initiative, for example, utilizes advanced beach cleaning machines to effectively address pollution issues along its shores.
Similarly, in Chennai, the Clean Beaches Initiative focuses on preserving the pristine condition of Marina Beach through the use of mechanized cleaning methods.
Goa's Swachh Sagar program has successfully employed beach cleaning machines to protect its renowned beaches. These initiatives highlight the commitment of these coastal regions to environmental preservation and the adoption of innovative technologies to ensure the sustainability of their coastal areas.
In Vizag, six beach cleaning vehicles were procured. These vehicles play a crucial role in maintaining the cleanliness and attractiveness of the beaches for visitors and tourists from various parts of the world. The vehicles are manufactured using advanced German technology and are leased to the vehicle manufacturer for a three-year period to ensure their proper maintenance and operation.
Subsequently, the company will transfer the ownership of these vehicles to the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation. Each machine is capable of effectively cleaning a 100-meter wide and two-kilometer-long stretch of beach within a span of eight hours. Moreover, these vehicles are equipped to efficiently remove and clear wastes and pollutants that accumulate in 10-inch deep layers of sand on the beach, ensuring a clean and pristine environment in a short amount of time. The GVMC had also initiated a trial run of a beach cleaning machine at RK Beach in Visakhapatnam before procuring them.
The coastal stretch of three km in Maharashtra's Alibag is a popular destination for both tourists and city residents. The beaches serve as a source of income, relaxation, and entertainment for many. However, it is crucial to pay attention to the cleanliness and maintenance of these beaches. To ensure that Alibag Beach remains clean, a beach cleaning machine is used. This machine effectively cleans the sand by bringing any waste material to the surface. This process helps to remove any waste material that may be stuck inside the soil, resulting in a thorough cleaning of the beach.
In Mumbai, the youth, and various volunteer groups join hands to clean up the city’s coastline. Each weekend, they meet up to remove debris and plastic waste from designated beaches in the city. Beach crusaders and other non-profit groups in Mumbai often gather around these beaches to pick up single-use plastics like PET bottles, plastic carry bags, etc.
Kollam Beach and Thangassery Port are two areas in Kollam district that mainly use coastal waste management systems. A beach cleaning machine using German technology is being used in Kollam Beach. A tractor was also introduced which is essential for the working of the beach-cleaning surf rack machine. Using the surf rack machine system, the soil is scooped up to a depth of 30 cm from the surface passed through a special screen in the machine, and sieved. In this way, the sand is cleaned and deposited back onto the beach and the waste is deposited in a special chamber in the surf rake. These will be deposited and disposed of in the specified area.
A mechanized aerobic compost unit for organic waste treatment has started functioning at Thangassery. It is an innovative general waste management system that processes organic waste with the help of a composting unit and produces quality organic fertilizer through aerobic composting. Apart from this, the services of Haritakarma Sena have also been used for the treatment of inorganic waste.
Over nine lakh sites were adopted for cleanliness and massive beach cleaning drives were conducted. While the Indian Coast Guard was involved in cleaning activities in Andaman’s Chattan Beach, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. joined hands with their employees to clean Vizag’s RK Beach. Tata Power employees offered Shramdaan at Chimbai beach in Mumbai, collecting over 40,000 kgs of trash. Many celebrities joined citizens to clean the Juhu and Versova beaches in Mumbai.
As urbanization continues to accelerate, there is a growing need to prioritize the treatment of wastewater from coastal towns before it enters the ocean. This is particularly important given the potential for untreated wastewater to negatively impact the health of marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
Effective wastewater treatment systems, under the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, are helping coastal communities mitigate these risks and ensuring that their local waters remain clean and healthy for generations to come. This involves a range of strategies, from investing in new infrastructure to promoting more sustainable practices among local businesses and residents.