The time couldn’t be more apt than on the eve of World Environment Day, for Puri Beach of Odisha to qualify for the Blue Flag certification. It is the first beach of Asia to get the tag; it’s an honour to get the tag for it’s only given to clean and environment-friendly beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.

The Federation of Environment Education (FEE), a Denmark-based organisation selected Puri Beach for the coveted Blue Flag certification. The stretch between Digabareni Square to Mayfair Hotel has been selected to get the Blue Flag certification. According to the Ministry of Forest and Environment, apart from Puri, 13 other beaches in India will now have environment-friendly resources to transform them to beaches of international standards. All these beaches too will get the Blue Flag certification in due time. The Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is spear-heading the development of Indian beaches under this programme.

A beach needs to qualify with at least 33 pre-requisites to achieve the Blue Flag certificate. This includes the quality of sea water, toilet, changing rooms, first aid centres, solar lighting and parking lots. While the Central Government will be investing INR 10 crore in the project, the SICOM is said to fund it with INR 2 crore.

Since Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India, with most of the fervour revolving around Jagannath Mandir and the famous festival of Rath Yatra, it’s beaches too command to be in the limelight. And with this initiative, there’s only hoping that the tourism reaches a new high putting their town on the global map yet again. Make sure you visit other major attractions here including Raghurajpur, Model Beach and Swargdwar. The nearest airport to Puri is Bhubaneswar’s Biju Patnaik Airport, at a distance of nearly 60 kilometres.