The Cabinet has approved the enactment of fresh legislation to increase fines and jail terms for those convicted of vandalizing archaeological sites and artefacts, an official said yesterday.
As such the minimum fine for such offences will be increased from the present rate of Rs.50,000 to Rs.500,000 and the maximum to two million rupees. The new piece of legislation will be enacted as an amendment to Sri Lanka Antiquities Ordinance No 9 of 1940.
The ordinance introduced in 1940 during the British rule has been amended on three occasions in the post-independence period.
Director General of Archaeology, Prof. P.B. Mandawala told Daily Mirror that Cabinet approval for amending the law was obtained on Wednesday. He said his office had worked out proposals to amend the existing law while Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa expedited the process.
“Once we are informed of the Cabinet approval in writing, we will refer it to the Legal Draftsman’s Department to put it in a legal format,” he said.
Mr. Mandawala said the decision was taken in the face of increased damage to archaeological sites.
Sri Lanka currently has 223 archaeological reserves and 3,200 monuments while new monuments are added to the list based on the latest discoveries. (Kelum Bandara)