Massage parlours stealing groundwater are causing a city to SINK, officials have warned.
The sprawling brothels – some with more than 300 ROOMS – often look like five star hotels but actually provide sex services for wealthy for locals and Asian tourists in Bangkok, Thailand.
They have escaped a wide-ranging crackdown on the country’s notorious prostitution industry which has focused largely on ‘sin city’ Pattaya.
But campaigners have slammed the seedy venues – claiming that they illegally tap into ground water to fuel the massive bubble baths, jacuzzis and constant showers with punters.
Pumping ground water from illegal wells and bore holes allows large buildings to bypass mains supplies and use water virtually for free – reducing running costs for a massive massage parlour.
But removing vast amounts of ground water weakens the soil – a problem made worse by Bangkok’s geological make up and the surging number of heavy high-rise buildings weighing down on the earth.
Leading hydrologist Aranya Fuengsawat said last week that a number of large massage parlours are now significantly adding to subsidence that is causing the Thai capital to sink by around 2cm a year.
Despite an earlier crackdown on the practice, which also targeted hotels, factories and shopping malls, Aranya claimed that industrial-size massage parlours are among those still sucking up water from the ground.
The massage parlours pictured are the largest in the Thai capital and found in the Ratchada area in the north the city, well-known for its sex venues and far from the bustling tourists zones.
They are among the group singled out for criticism – but Aranya, the government’s groundwater department deputy director, did not name the venues individually.
The biggest of the buildings are several stories high and include hundreds of rooms, as well as bars, their own restaurants, live music, bubble baths and dozens of doormen and porters working throughout the afternoon and evening.
Girls as young as 18-years-old are employed at the ‘entertainment venues’, with prices ranging from 1,700 baht to 10,000 for 90 minutes.
The claims that Bangkok’s multi-stortey massage parlours illegally use ground water were backed-up by politician Chuwit Kamolvisit – a former brothel tycoon turned campaigner.
Speaking on his TV show with the country’s biggest and most influential media outlet ‘ThaiRath’, he said: ”These are big places that use a lot of water. That costs a lot so they use groundwater without anyone knowing.
”Massage parlours can pump the water up from deep in the ground, from 100 metres down, wells and bore holes and pipes.
”I know where it’s happening, I have the information and it’s available for the governor if they want it.”
Chuwit claimed that a typical venue would use around 300,000 litres of waters in one night just for filling its hot tubs – enough for three home swimming pools. The venues are open most days of the year and there are large numbers of them in the city.
Pumping up ground water causes land subsidence, which scientists say has been affecting Bangkok since the 1980s when there was an explosion in tourism and manufacturing.
A government report in 2015 warned that the city could be underwater by 2030 due to ”excessive pumping from the underground aquifer, the weight of mushrooming development and rising sea levels.”
A boom in concrete development also adds to the problem by preventing rain water from seeping into the ground.
Responding to the claims that massage parlours illegally use ground water, Thai police told local media that it was not their responsibility to check a venue’s water system.
Col. Kampol Rattanapratheep said: ”We monitor laws related to entertainment venues, prostitution, human trafficking and alien workers.
”We are not capable of inspecting a venue’s infrastructure or water system.”