Bay marred by movie ordered to be fixed

BANGKOK: The Supreme Court has ordered the Forestry Department to restore Maya Bay, which was environmentally damaged in 1998 during the shooting of the movie The Beach.

Photo: Bangkok Post.

The ruling was read out at the Civil Court yesterday (Sept 13) and follows earlier rulings by lower courts, reports the Bangkok Post.

A large part of filming for The Beach was done in Maya Bay, amid allegations of ecological vandalism when imported palms were planted to make the beach “perfect”.

The Krabi Provincial Administration Organisation and 17 other plaintiffs initially filed suit with the Civil Court handling environmental cases. They filed against the agriculture minister at the time, the Forestry Department, the then-Forestry Department chief, the Thai agent Santa International Film Production and filmmaker 20th Century Fox Co, as first to fifth defendants respectively, for violations of the National Park Act and the National Environmental Quality Act.

In 1998, authorities approved the re-landscaping of Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi, which was within Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park in Krabi, for The Beach. This prompted the plaintiffs to file suit against those involved.

The plaintiffs asked the court to nullify the orders issued by the first, second and third defendants, which allowed the fourth defendant to shoot the film, and order the company to jointly place money as a guarantee for restoration of damage to the environment. Unless the guaranteed money was put up, the plaintiffs asked the court to order the first to third defendants to revoke the film permit given to the fourth and fifth defendants. The suit also called for the restoration of Maya Bay.

C and C Marine

The lower court ruling ordered the Forestry Department to restore Maya Bay to its natural state. The court also ordered it to set up a working panel to draw up a rehabilitation plan for Maya Bay and sustainable use of areas around the bay. The working panel was to be set up within 30 days of the ruling being made.

The court ordered the fourth and fifth defendants to be responsible for implementing a compromise agreement dated Feb 27, 2019. Under the agreement, the fifth defendant agreed to give B10 million for natural conservation so that the first and second plaintiffs could use the money for nature conservation. The first defendant would update the court every year on the progress of the work, for three consecutive years or until the money was spent.

The lower court acquitted the first and third defendants. The defendants appealed to the Appeal Court handling environmental cases asking for acquittal of the second defendant too. Later, the first and second plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court found the plaintiffs’ appeal was partially sound. It ruled to uphold the lower court ruling for the Forestry Department, to restore Maya beach. The department was ordered to comply with the Supreme Court judgement within 30 days.

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