Defence Secretary pledges to protect national heritage sites | Daily News


Defence Secretary pledges to protect national heritage sites

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 on Thursday.

The visit was in response to recent mainstream 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 him on 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 heritage, 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.

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