Koh Lan to return B95m waste budget

Koh Lan to return B95m waste budget

New plan needed to solve trash problems

Trash from visitors and businesses on popular Koh Lan off Pattaya winds up at this area, and regulations say the mountain of rubbish cannot be removed. (File photo)
Trash from visitors and businesses on popular Koh Lan off Pattaya winds up at this area, and regulations say the mountain of rubbish cannot be removed. (File photo)

Chon Buri: Koh Lan officials will return 95 million baht to Pattaya City Council after they failed to remove 50,000 tonnes of trash from the island, leaving its inhabitants struggling with the stench and the risk of a "trash slide".

The 95-million-baht budget was allocated five years ago, but island officials were unable to spend it because the law stipulates that trash must only be disposed of in the area where it was generated, said Nattaphon Thirawutthiwet, acting chief of the Pattaya Municipality branch office on Koh Lan.

When officials were about to hire ships to remove the trash to be dumped in a landfill on the mainland, the Interior Ministry stepped in and ordered officials to change their disposal plans.

"As officials can't spend the budget, which was granted in 2014 to solve the island's chronic waste-management problem, it must be returned," he said.

Officials will be required to request a new budget for waste management, said Mr Nattaphon, who added that Koh Lan authorities have indicated that they might procure an incinerator, as per the suggestion of a study carried out by King Mongkut's University of Technology in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Pattaya council president Anan Angkhanawisan said the decision to return the money is not in breach of any law.

Instead, he said, questions should be asked about whether island authorities will be able to solve Koh Lan's chronic waste issues.

"If the capacity of the incinerator isn't large enough, it will only be able to process new trash," he said.

Mr Nattaphon said that finding a location for the facility will be an issue, as large parts of Koh Lan have been designated as public areas.

Other parts of the island are occupied by "squatters" with no title deeds.

At present, about 50,000 tonnes of trash generated on Koh Lan is in a 12-rai landfill located near a scenic point near Khao Nom.

With the size of the garbage mounds continuing to grow, local villagers have expressed concerns that the massive trash heaps may collapse during a heavy downpour.

Residents have also repeatedly complained about a foul stench from water around the trash mounds, which often spills over and runs down near their homes.

"The council will spray disinfectant to help reduce the smell coming from the landfill," Mr Anan said.

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