In response to an information request from the Turan news agency on June 4, the executive authority of the Khazar district provided a detailed report on the measures taken as part of the preparations for the 2024 beach season. This comes against the backdrop of environmental concerns highlighted in the article "Will Azerbaijani Beaches be Awarded Blue Flags?", which has drawn significant attention to the sustainability and safety of the country's coastal areas.

In a letter dated June 12, the executive authority of the Khazar district reported that there are 72 beaches in five settlements. Efforts are currently underway to bring these beaches up to modern standards to ensure optimal summer recreation. Local administrative and territorial administrations have initiated improvement projects, and beach operators have been tasked with addressing deficiencies identified during recent inspections by the Baku city executive authority.

These initiatives comply with the "Regulations on Local Executive Authorities," approved by Presidential Decree No. 648 of June 6, 2012, and the order of the Head of the Baku City Executive Authority No. 82 of May 17, 2024. The directives place special emphasis on improving recreational conditions for residents, maintaining beach cleanliness, and promoting effective leisure activities.

Key measures include the dismantling or replacement of outdated equipment, organized beach cleaning, restoration of damaged facilities, painting works, upgrading access roads, and installing warning signs in restricted areas. On May 24, 2024, under the leadership of the Khazar district executive authority and the Baku Regional Center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, a regional meeting was convened on the topic "Ensuring the Safety of People on Water Bodies." The meeting included representatives from districts, emergency rescue services, medical institutions, and beach operators, with a particular focus on water safety and preparedness.

In the village of Shuvalan, non-compliant structures were demolished, and waste collection contracts were extended. Agreements were also signed with beach operators who lacked previous contracts. To ensure the safety of seawater, from May to the end of the season, the Republican Anti-Plague Station and the Republican Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology will take and analyze water samples every two months in accordance with the Ministry of Health's Order No. 45 "On Improving Cholera Prevention."

The executive authority also noted that the Turkan beach remains closed for swimming due to non-compliance with microbiological contamination standards, as per the decision of the Republican Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology dated June 7, 2019. Continuous monitoring by the Khazar district executive authority and the Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology will ensure compliance with legal requirements and safety throughout the season.

On June 12, the State Environmental Safety Service of the Ministry of Ecology informed Turan about measures aimed at addressing the issues highlighted in the article "Will Azerbaijani Beaches be Awarded Blue Flags?". The report mentioned last year's discovery of untreated sewage discharges into the Caspian Sea in various settlements. Environmental safety violators have been held accountable according to the Code of Administrative Offenses.

However, there has been no substantial response from the executive authority and the Ministry of Ecology regarding sewage discharges at Zagulba and Buzovna beaches. The article "Sewage, Water Supply, and Underground Pipes", published on June 12, highlighted the problem of sewage discharge by local treatment facilities into the sea, raising concerns about sanitary conditions at Zagulba beach. Reports indicate that about 20,000 cubic meters of sewage are discharged into the sea daily, with cases of intestinal diseases registered among children visiting these beaches. On polluted beaches, salmonellosis, dysentery, Escherichia coli, rotavirus infection, viral hepatitis A, etc. can be dangerous.

Despite these concerns, reports from the Ministry of Ecology have listed Buzovna and Zagulba as safe beaches. Azersu OJSC and the State Tourism Agency did not respond to the information request dated June 4, leaving the issues raised in the subsequent article "Sewage, Water Supply, and Underground Pipes" unaddressed. This silence raises questions about the activities of government institutions, potentially engaged in preparations for COP29.

The ongoing environmental and public health issues underscore the need for strict oversight and genuine efforts to improve the quality and safety of Azerbaijan's beaches, ensuring they truly meet the high standards symbolized by the coveted "Blue Flag" certification.

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