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Kurunegala demolished site: Full report to be delayed

 

The full report of the findings related to the demolished archaeological site in Kurunegala that was to be presented to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa would be delayed, according to Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural, and Religious Affairs M.K. Bandula Harischandra.

The reason for the delay is a writ application filed against the Mayor of Kurunegala at the Court of Appeal, as the full report can only be presented after the hearing concludes.

Earlier this week, a writ application was filed before the Court of Appeal, requesting the arrest of Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa Witharana over the demolition of the 13th Century building, for which Witharana came under public and media scrutiny for allegedly ordering the demolition.

The Department of Archaeology recognised the building as an archaeological site and had scheduled excavation and preservation work to commence on 16 July.

However, it was reported on 15 July that the Road Development Authority (RDA), without seeking the approval from the Department of Archaeology, had demolished the building using a bulldozer.

Witharana had told the media that the RDA had permitted the demolition of the building to widen a road running through the area. The Mayor, however, had not obtained approval from the Department of Archaeology.

The Kurunegala Magistrate ordered Witharana to hand over all files pertaining to the destroyed archaeological site for the safe custody of the court. The order was announced following an application made by the Attorney General’s (AG) Department.

Earlier, the AG obtained an order from the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court to protect and prevent access to the demolished Buwaneka Hotel building site pending investigations.

The AG also obtained prevention orders from the Magistrate against the Kurunegala Mayor, Deputy Mayor, municipal councillors, Commissioner, municipal council staff, and their representatives entering the Buwaneka Hotel site.

The Ministry had held a discussion with the Anunayaka Thera and experts in the field of archaeology last week at Temple Trees, during which they had discussed the restoration of the now demolished building, which is estimated to cost Rs. 9 million at its initial reconstruction stage.

Harischandra said that following the discussions that were held with the participation of the Anunayaka Thera and experts in the field of culture and archaeology, the site is to be reconstructed.

“We drew up an initial costing after consulting the experts. Before we commence the restoration work, a plan is to be designed of the building’s structure. Funds are to be raised in collaboration with the Wayamba Provincial Council, Kurunegala Municipal Council, Central Cultural Fund, and the Government,” Harischandra stated.