Committee recommendations to PM by Thursday | Sunday Observer
Destruction of archaeological site:

Committee recommendations to PM by Thursday

19 July, 2020

The Committee, appointed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to probe the destruction of an archaeologically important site in Kurunegala by the Municipal Council (KMC), conducted an onsite inspection yesterday to assess the damage.

The five-member committee, led by Department of Archaeology Director General Prof. Senarath Dissanayake, includes Kurunegala District Secretary R. M. J. Ratnayake, Archaeologist T. G. Kulatunga, Archaeology Deputy Director at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Prasad Ranasinghe and Central Cultural Fund Director Sumedha Matota. The recommendations and findings of the committee will be reported back to the Prime Minister by July 23.

The KMC on Thursday on the orders of Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa had demolished a structure, believed to be the royal assembly hall of King Bhuvanekabahu II dating back to the 13th century. The incident drew a major backlash from archaeology experts and the people.

According to Prof. Dissanayake, the Department will explore the possibility of restoring the structure. He said that prior to its destruction, a study of the site revealed that it could be restored while preserving its archaeological value. The structure was demolished hours before the Department of Archaeology was expected to commence excavations at the site.

Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa told the media that the demolished building was an unauthorised structure and was part of a restaurant.

The Director General refuted the claim and has confirmed that the Department has evidence that the structure belonged to the Yapahuwa Kingdom in the Kurunegala era. A structure had been built over the assembly hall to protect it.

The Department of Archeology lodged a complaint with the Police. However, the Director General of the Department has accused the Police of failing to take action against the perpetrators responsible for the destruction of the archaeological site.