By Chandani Kirinde
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a 11-member Presidential Task Force to conduct a comprehensive survey of archaeological sites in the Eastern Province and recommend measures to preserve them.
The Task Force will be chaired by Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Major General (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne.
This is one of two Task Forces the President appointed on Tuesday, making a total of six that he has set up since taking office last November.
The members of the Presidential Task Force for Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province included two members of the Buddhist clergy, namely Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera and the Chief Prelate for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, Chief Senanayake of Thamankaduwa Direction, and Chief Incumbent of Arisimalai Aranya Ven. Panamure Thilakawansha Thera.
The others are Director-General of Archaeology Dr. Senarath Bandara Dissanayake, Land Commissioner General Chandra Herath, Surveyor General A.L.S.C. Perera, University of Kelaniya Senior Lecturer Prof. Raj Kumar Somadeva, University of Peradeniya Medical Faculty Prof. Kapila Gunawardena, Senior DIG, Western Province Deshabandu Thennakoon, Eastern Province Provincial Land Commissioner H.E.M.W.G. Dissanayake, and Chairman of Derana Media Network Dilith Jayaweera. The members of the Task Force have to identify sites of archaeological importance in the Eastern Province and implement an appropriate program for the management of archaeological heritage, by conserving and restoring such identified sites and antiquities.
It will also identify the extent of land that should be allocated for such archaeological sites, take necessary measures to allocate them properly and legally, preserve the cultural value of sites of archaeological importance, promote the uniqueness of Sri Lanka, both locally and internationally, and make recommendations for the promotion of such heritages.Senior Assistant Secretary to the President Jeevanthie Senanayake has been named the Secretary of the Task Force.No members from either the Tamil or Muslim community have been named to the Task Force, even though they collectively make up over 70% of the Eastern Province’s population.
The relevant Gazette notification was issued by the Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara.