Asia

Thai gov't panel approves coal plant in popular tourist area

  • Suda Hemsanga, a Krabi resident, yells in protest against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

    Suda Hemsanga, a Krabi resident, yells in protest against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman holds up a sign against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

    A woman holds up a sign against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this image made from video, Tadpong Kadam, a Bangkok student, struggles against police during a demonstration against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo)

    In this image made from video, Tadpong Kadam, a Bangkok student, struggles against police during a demonstration against a proposed coal-fired plant on Thailand's coast, in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 17, 2017. Thai government's committee approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Friday. The plant and an accompanying dock are slated to be built next to an existing oil plant on the coast in Krabi, a major tourist destination. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

Thailand's prime minister says a government committee has approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea.

The plant is to be built on the coast in Krabi, a famous tourist destination with soaring cliffs and white sands.

The announcement by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that the National Energy Policy Committee gave the go-ahead was criticized by activists who worry the plant will pollute local waters and spoil scenery. They say it will damage tourism and fishing, and that eco-friendly alternatives should be considered instead.

Supporters of the plant say it will make up for a big energy shortfall in the country's south and wean it off electricity imports from neighboring countries.

The proposal will be reviewed before being forwarded to the Cabinet.