Livelihoods washing away with sand on Pattaya Beach

Friday, 04 March 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 9 By  Ekachai Sukwattana

The sand isn’t the only thing being washed away on Pattaya Beach.

After working 40 years on the beach, Pui Pitsawongprakarn has watched as her business has eroded along with the shoreline. Within a few years, there may be nothing left of either.

Pui has tried to shore up her North Pattaya livelihood by buying sandbags, but she’s uncertain how long that will help. Her average income of 5,000-6,000 baht a month is now down about 20 percent. Public officials have pledged to save the beach, but with work not expected to begin for as many as four years, she wonders if there will be anything left to save.

Pui Pitsawongprakarn has been using her own money to buy sandbags to try and save a portion of the beach. Pui Pitsawongprakarn has been using her own money to buy sandbags to try and save a portion of the beach.

A new study by Chulalongkorn University found that Pattaya Beach has shrunk from 96,128 sq. meters in 1952 to just 50,500 sq. m. by 2002 and even less today. Within five years, researchers said, Pattaya Beach could be no more.

Local officials have come up with three scenarios to expand the beach. But the cost - up to 600 million baht - and environmental impact has drawn criticism from national officials who insist more studies are necessary before any action can be taken.

At a meeting last month, a Bangkok official said wrangling over studies, existing environmental laws and budgets could postpone any move to save the beach by three or four years.

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