The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on ‘Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province’ has been tasked to conserve all archaeological heritage sites in the Eastern Province irrespective of religion, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said.
Addressing the members of the PTF on ‘Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province’ at their inaugural meeting at the Defence Ministry recently, the Defence Secretary, who is the Chairman of the PTF, requested all Sri Lankans irrespective of their race, religion and other differences to support the PTF to preserve Sri Lanka’s historical heritage in the Eastern Province for future generations.
“We have many historical archaeological sites in the Eastern Province and many are under threat due to different reasons today. The Government wants to conserve and restore these sites irrespective of the religion or ethnic group that they belong to as they are national heritage sites,” he said.
The Defence Secretary said the PTF would work closely with all the ethnic groups in the Eastern Province to restore and manage those historical archaeological sites.
The members of the PTF discussed matters related to planning and implementation of its tasks. During the discussion, the members representing different establishments agreed upon sharing knowledge and mutual cooperation with a view to bringing everyone into one grid in implementing the PTF’s mandate.
The 11-member PTF is given the task of identifying sites of archaeological importance in the Eastern Province, identifying and implementing an appropriate program for the management of archaeological heritage by conserving and restoring such identified sites and antiquities, identifying the extent of land that should be allocated for such archaeological sites and take necessary measures to allocate them properly and legally and preserving the cultural value of sites of archaeological importance and promoting the uniqueness of Sri Lanka, both locally and internationally and making recommendations to promote such heritage.
The PTF members during the meeting emphasised the importance of getting the support of local communities whose knowledge and information on the sites would be of significance to conserve them. They also agreed to initiate viable options in conserving and restoring archaeological and heritage sites already identified as a stepping stone of the PTF’s work on the ground while simultaneously utilising available resources in discovering more sites in the Eastern Province.
A decision was arrived at creating a database of archaeological sites with the inclusion of geo-spatial data enabling effective and transparent implementation in preservation and conservation efforts.
The PTF members – Purawidya Chakravarthi Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero, Chief Prelate for the Eastern and Northern Provinces Ven. Panamure Thilakawansha Thero, Eastern Province Governor Anuradha Yahampath, Archaeology Director General Dr. Senarath Bandara Dissanayake, Land Commissioner-General Chandra Herath, Surveyor General A.L.S.C. Perera, Prof. Raj Kumar Somadeva, Prof. Kapila Gunawardena, Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon, Eastern Province Provincial Land Commissioner H.E.M.W.G. Dissanayake, Derana Media Network Chairman Dilith Jayaweera and Senior Assistant Secretary to the President Jeevanthie Senanayake were present in the meeting.
Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne