"Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar” campaign against marine litter

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar: Ministry of Earth Sciences’ campaign

New Delhi, July 11: The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences is gearing for a mass cleanliness campaign being organised along the country’s nearly 7,500 km long coastline on September 17 to mark the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.

Litter in the marine environment, especially in the form of plastics, is an issue of major concern worldwide, with several studies showing their harmful impact on marine biodiversity, ecosystems, fisheries, human health, and the economy.

Usually, wastes from land-based sources make up a significant share of marine litter.

As a signatory of the United Nation’s “Coastal Clean Seas” campaign, India has been adopting many activities to prevent pollution from both land-based and offshore activities, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 14 and its target 14.1, which seeks, by 2025, to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”.

Among other things, India has implemented a nationwide ban on listed single-use plastic items from July 01, 2022.

The “International Coastal Clean-Up Day” is celebrated globally on the third Saturday of September, every year. This year it falls on September 17.

The Government of India, other voluntary organizations, and the local societies will run a cleanliness campaign “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar” (Clean Coast, Safe Sea) along India’s nearly 7500-kilometre-long coastline.

Efforts will be undertaken to collect scientific data and information on marine litter in various matrices, such as coastal waters, sediments, biota, and beaches.

Besides the Ministry of Earth Sciences, this campaign will include the Indian Coast Guard, Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions.

This year’s event also coincides with the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to mark the 75th year of the country’s independence; The coastal cleanup drive will be carried out at 75 beaches across the country with 75 volunteers for every kilometre of the coastline.

A 75-day citizen-led campaign will precede the programme. It has three strategic underlying goals that target transformation and environmental conservation through behaviour change: consume responsibly, segregate waste at home, and dispose of waste responsibly.

In terms of implementation, during July, there will be an attempt to raise awareness about the degradation caused by plastic and the danger to ecological balance from deteriorating ocean health. In August, the campaign will create engagement, especially among the youth on innovating to solve the problem of plastic waste. In September, the focus will be on the action – bringing people to clean up the beach as a symbolic gesture to pledge against the use of plastic.

Key audiences for the campaign include local communities that rely on oceans and beaches for livelihood, school and college students, youth, and citizens in general. The campaign will combine virtual and physical formats to deliver key messages and engage the target audience in adopting the lifestyle and behavioral changes that promote environmental activities including quizzes, pledges, and challenges. Physical activities include the actual beach clean-up along with awareness rallies, skits, and contests.

Addressing a press conference, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr Ravichandran, said a mobile app “Eco Mitram” has also been launched to spread awareness about the campaign and also for the common people to register for the beach cleaning activity on September 17.

(India Science Wire)

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