Chon Buri - Pattaya officials have vowed to clean up Koh Lan which is being flooded with garbage from a growing number of illegal resorts on the popular island.
Koh Lan acting sub-district chief Chaowalit Praditphruek told a meeting at Pattaya City Hall that local officials had been unable to tackle the long-standing problems because of limited manpower and funds.
Residents on Koh Lan understand the constraints on waste management and have not lodged any complaints over the "garbage crisis" as reported by some media outlets, Mr Chaowalit told Pattaya Council chairman Anan Angkhanawisai who recently inspected the island.
However, villagers in Moo 7 of Ban Koh Lan told at least one media agency about 30,000 tonnes of garbage on Nom hill in front of Saem beach, one of nine scenic beaches on Koh Lan. The dump was continuing to grow, causing a foul smell and was an eyesore.
The dump was needed as one of two ships hired to dispose of garbage on the mainland has been out of service for two years, Mr Chaowalit said.
Each ship can carry 24 tonnes of garbage while the daily amount stands at 50 tonnes, he said. Part of it comes from more than 2,000 households while the rest is a result of the increasing number of visitors to the island.
The latest survey of the island found that 15,000 and 20,000 tourists visit each day, or about five million a year.
To solve the garbage problem, Pattaya authorities have allowed local officials to use 12 rai of land on the hill as a temporary dump. The island covers 3,000 rai.
Yet Mr Chaowalit said officials are not comfortable with this arrangement. They have produced a plan to hire a private company to repair the ship for less than 2.5 million baht, but so far no one has shown any interest.
In the meantime, "we spray EM liquid three times a day to reduce the stench," he said, referring to simple effective microorganism technology which is made of natural micro-organisms and fermented sugar-based plants. But in the long term, he suggested an incinerator as an alternative.
Mr Anan said the problem is not critical because there is space for garbage. But "that will not last long", he warned.
The Pattaya Council will consider allocating funds to solve the problem both in the short and long-term, he said. Mr Anan also asked local officials on Koh Lan to get tough on people who expand their homes or resorts onto public areas.