Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
UNESCO has warned that it will remove the world heritage status given to Sinharaja, Dambulla and Galle Fort if they are not preserved properly, National Heritage Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told Parliament.
The minister made this statement during a heated argument on the proposed demolition of the Mahinda Rajapaksa pavilion at the International Cricket Stadium in Galle.
“We have decided to demolish the pavilion because UNESCO has mentioned that unauthorised structures in the Galle Fort are not removed. However, we will not demolish the entire stadium,” he said.
Opposition MP Chandima Weerakkody who raised this issue in Parliament said the century-old stadium would be demolished, and that construction work of the proposed stadium in Koggala had not got off the ground though such a decision was taken years ago.
Meanwhile, MP Dinesh Gunawardene said the previous regime devised a plan to preserve the stadium as a world heritage site.
Petroleum Resources Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said the pavilion at the Galle stadium, which was an unauthorised construction, was built despite warnings from SLC officials that it was illegal.
“It was decided to demolish the pavilion soon after it was constructed, but relevant officials named it after the former President making this task impossible,” he said.
On a different note, Mr. Ranatunga said the Sri Lankan cricket team performed well whenever they played in this stadium.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha charged that some MPs were attempting to politicise the issue.