Naval unit to maintain security of Muhudu Maha Viharaya
By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya and Wasantha Chandrapala
Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne said that tough action will be taken against those vandalising and encroaching archaeological and historic sites.
He made this remark during his visit to Muhudu Maha Viharaya and Deegawapiya archaeological sites in the Ampara District on Thursday where he pledged to protect archaeological sites from vandalism by individuals and organised groups. The visit was in response to recent main stream and social media news reports of widespread encroachments of archaeological sites in the country.
A naval sub-unit has been established to maintain the security in the environs of the Muhudu Maha Viharaya, which is an ancient Buddhist temple in Pottuvil under the instructions of the Defence Secretary.
The Defence Secretary said that encroachment of the Viharaya land would not be allowed and informed the Chief Incumbent Ven. Warakapola Indratissa Thera 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 Rajapaksa. “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 vandalising during the last few years. 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, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, 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.