Defence Secretary pledges to protect national heritage sites of all religeous and ethnic groups

May 14, 2020
  • Says tough action will be taken against vandalizing and encroaching archaeological and historic sites
  • A naval sub unit has been set up to maintain security in surrounding of the Muhudu Maha Viharaya

Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne pledged to protect and preserve archaeological and historic sites from vandalism and encroachments by individuals and organised groups.

He gave this assurance when he met some villagers and Buddhist priests during his visit to Muhudu-Maha Viharaya and Deegawapiya archaeological sites in the Ampara district in the Eastern province today (May 14).

The visit was in response to recent main stream and social media news reports of widespread and unprecedented encroachments and vandalism of several archaeological and historical sites in the country.

Following instructions of the Defence Secretary, a naval sub-unit has been established to maintain the security in the environs of the Muhudu Maha Viharaya, an ancient Buddhist temple in Pottuvil.

He said encroachment taking in the Viharaya land would not be allowed and informed the Chief Incumbent of the temple Ven. Warakapola Indratissa Thera, who briefed the situation in the area, that a meeting would be arranged with the relevant authorities to discuss the issues, soon.

Ven Indratissa Thera informed the Defence Secretary that the land area of 72 acres declared in 1951 by the then Commissioner General of Archaeology Senarath Paranawitana was reduced to 32 acres by a gazette notification in 1965.

“There are 42 families in the land now and they are encroaching the remaining temple land,” he said requesting the Defence Secretary to solve the issue urgently.

The top defence delegation toured in the surrounding areas of Muhudu-Maha Viharaya and Deegawapiya,  on instructions given by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rakapaksa.

“Damages to national heritages, intended or otherwise, will not be tolerated and all possible actions will be taken within the existing law to bring the culprits to book,” the Defence Secretary said.

He reiterated the national treasures - the archaeological and historical sites- would be protected and preserved irrespective of the religion and ethnicity for the benefit of the country’s future generation.

“Sri Lanka has been experiencing an increase in vandalizing and also encroaching those sites by certain individuals and groups during the last few years. It is unfortunate to learn that some people are damaging those sites and also encroaching some of the important religious sites in the presence of the law enforcement,” he claimed.

Eastern province Governor Anuradha Yahampath,  Sri Lanka Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Sri Lanka Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Acting IGP C. D. Wickramaratne, and Security Forces Commander (East) Maj. Gen. Rasika Fernando also visited these sites with the Defence Secretary.