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Phuket Pollution? Nobody Has Power
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
PHUKET: Calls for resorts that pollute Phuket's Bang Tao canal to be shut down and the owners arrested and prosecuted were shrugged off today as being beyond the limits of the local council.
Ma-Ann Samran, Mayor of Cherng Talay, said: ''The problem is the same. I don't have the power.''
Polluters, it seems, do have the power - to do as they please. Few people who want the environment protected can forget the photographs of Bang Tao canal about this time last year, filled with black water, and the then governor, Maitree Intrusud, pretending that not a lot was wrong.
This holiday weekend the canal turned black again and the pretence that nothing was wrong was being continued.
''We are keen to respond environmentally but local authorities cannot make arrests and cannot close down resorts,'' Mayor Ma-Ann said.
He said some resorts in the region had waste water treatment facilities but others did not.
''It's not always a 24-hour thing for those with water treatment facilities, either,'' he said. ''Phuket Public Health could fine them but the maximum would be 2000 baht.''
He said environmental authorities were also restricted in their powers.
''When people seek permission for construction, the local authorities are not the people they have to ask for permission,'' Mayor Ma-Ann said.
Bang Tao canal and the southern end of the beach is overlooked by the newly developed villas of the Amanpuri resort, some of the most pricey properties on Phuket.
Comments have been disabled for this article.
April 7, 2015 09:53
It's odd how comments often come from know-alls with the solutions to all the world's problems, but no name.
If I am not mistaken, I'm pretty sure there are existing laws that prohibit the discharge of untreated wastewater into the canals. What needs to be undertaken is a door-to-door survey of all properties facing the canal to identify illegal pipes and discharges. Once identified, the discharger should have a set time (2 weeks maybe) to terminate the discharge, even if by installing a temporary tank. I think the biggest problems stems from indifference by local officials. They really don't care, as they do not live there nor do they swim at the polluted beaches. There are many alternatives to address these ongoing issues...they just choose not to. I would also add that it is issues such as this that will ultimately result in tourists going elsewhere rather than vacationing at a polluted beach in BangTao (or Kamala or Karon or Kata...etc.). The whole scenario is pathetic.
April 7, 2015 10:23
Marine 5 has taken some positive actions in areas I have brought to their attention. More people must stand up and say enough. Were are the mass protests? The pollution is right in your face (it is non-existent)until the people who live here take a stand against pollution there will be little positive changes and more negative outcomes.
April 7, 2015 10:47
Does the law allow the water to be pumped back on to the polluters property?
April 7, 2015 11:12
you mean, maybe in through a window?
Maybe its a Job for the Prime Minister.
He's always on TV telling people how they can fix problems.
If only I could speak fluent Thai and call him up.
April 7, 2015 11:23
I was walking past a coin laundry the other day and noticed that the wastewater from the washing machines appeared to be flowing right into the storm drains. If this is standard practice, then we have a massive problem here.
April 7, 2015 13:08
These days many travelers can use the internet to do quick searches for problems with a destination before they book a holiday. It takes 3 seconds to search "Phuket Pollution" and the results would put anyone off. The photos online of black sludge flowing onto Bangtao Beach are scars on Phukets tourism industry that cannot be erased. They are there for good. There are questions posted on Tripadvisor from people who are worried about it and probably chose another holiday destination because of it.
The cost is immeasurable, which is why it is allowed to continue for so long. If a price in Thai baht could be calculated, it would be impossible to ignore.
April 7, 2015 14:34
Would a "name and shame" campaign help get the offending resorts to clean up their act?
April 7, 2015 14:39
@Treelover, that's not the worst of it, when I traded in an old car battery for recycle they just emptied the battery acid down the storm drain. It was obviously S.O.P.
April 7, 2015 14:45
This reminds me of the little girl who died when the road broke down and nobody fixed it.
Passing on the blame? Excuses again?
If local authorities cannot make arrests, why can't they call in higher authorities, asking them to regulate the turf they are responsible for regulating?
If politicians represent the people, it's their responsibility to find solutions, not excuses.
If politicians represent corruption, they will always find excuses.
Politicians... too often it seems they represent THE EVIL and not THE PEOPLE. Same same story again and again..
April 7, 2015 14:59
Amanpuri does not even give a damn about adjacent secluded beaches, full of trash which is NEVER cleaned up. I do realize that trash is washed ashore, but cleanin it all up takes only 1-2 human-hours a week, which basically costs nothing in Thailand, and yet NOTHING is done. I do pick some trash myself whenever I walk there, but total indifference from local residents and businesses makes this work futile. Some of Amanpuri villas do overlook directly a beach full of trash! Noone seems to care.
If Phuketwan had a paper, and maybe even Thai version, and been distributed right on local hotels and authorities doorsteps, those issues would have been more noticable.
April 7, 2015 15:56
Want to be a newspaper publisher, Timothy? The market is wide open for your investment.
Instead of playing the "it's not my responsibility card" the Mayor could pass the problem on to those that have, then he could wash his hands of it - but not in the Bang Tao canal!
April 7, 2015 16:07
Amanpuri like other hotels pays to the province coffers hotel tax as % of sales, and it is local authorities responibilities and competence area to manage becahes which are public land - they have got money for that, so they have to establish management framework for beaches - that is totally lacking, bar few sporadic initiatives, and organize cleaning function of beaches.
It is good to have a bit of understanding of institutional build up of society, and while in a confused state of mind on the subject, to join a chorus of evicted local illegal super profitable beach businesses who routinely blames, with or without proper reason, "big hotels" for any vice that took a place around.
April 7, 2015 16:51
@Sue - get serious Sue, the relative pittance that hotels such as Amanpuri or Andara cough up do not even come close to covering the costs to this island that arise from their facilities and their guests. The burdens of dealing with just the trash and sewage generated by these mega resorts alone far outstrips government's ability to provided the necessary infrastructure and services. I know that government officials have a LONG way to go in terms of environmental management, but these hotels need to contribute significantly more capital to address the problems.
April 7, 2015 21:53
Phuket province hotel tax is 1% of room sales, so expensive hotels pays disproportionate amount of this tax.
Phuket has only half hotels registered as hotels (guest house are not considered here) - as been reported by PW, so half or less of room tax is collected.
The law stipulates that max. room tax is 3%, every province chose its own rate. E.g. Phang Nga 2%.
So if Phuket Province Administrative Authority would finally
(a) makes unregistered hotels to register - it would double this revenue.
(b) may chose to rise a tax rate , up to max 3% - TRIPLE here,and whether 3% or 1% off the rate goes to PPAO coffers, has minimum impact on market, assuming hotels will add the tax to rates.
So PPAO has a potential - and easily realizable one - to increase room tax revenue SIX FOLD, tat should be enough
- to pay lifeguards
- to introduce and maintain fair beach management scheme
- upgrade beach facilities with clean and free WCs and sweet water showers, signage etc.
- keeping environment in good shape
I can't agree with you that room tax alone can't pay for those, actually infrastructure issues.
The price structure of room rate is that up-to 35-50% can eat distribution channels, then there are various expense positions - lease or depreciation of capital assets, staff expenses, maintenance expenses, overheads, financing costs, other A&P and marketing that are not commissions, profit, so 1-3% of the room rate for communal infrastructure upkeeping is quite a lot, nothing more can be expected and is on upper end of what is usually collected around the world as such kind of tax.
Room tax represents tourist money that almost directly flows into PPAO coffers, even indexed on to the level of tourist's financial wellbeing
April 8, 2015 05:46
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