PM promises to conserve Kuragala site without allowing  it to become communal issue


By Saman Indrajith

The pre-historic Kuragala site in Balangoda would be conserved for the posterity ensuring that interests of both Sinhala and Muslim communities would be safeguarded, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

It was a national heritage site with archaeological evidence of the Balangoda civilisation and some artefacts found there were more than 8,000 years old, the Prime Minister said.

He said that a committee had been appointed under the supervision of Prof. Shiran Deranaiyagala to look into the issue and find ways and means of conserving the site without jeopardising the interests of both Sinhala and Muslim communities.

 "There is a cave temple inhabited by bhikkhus during the Anuradhapura Period and thousand years prior to that the site had been used by humans belonging to the Pre-historic period. Recently, remains of a human skeleton older than 8,000 years were discovered near the site. So, the evidence indicated that we had a flourishing civilisation very much earlier than the arrival of Prince Vijaya. I invite the MPs to visit this site and participate in the process of conserving it without playing politics with it," the PM said.

PM Wickremesinghe said that according to the finds of the preliminary archaeological surveys, the most important evidence of settlements in the area was buried under a mosque. "We have spoken to the authorities and they are willing to permit excavations to be carried out there. So, there will be no problem and we will ensure that this heritage site will be conserved in a manner protecting the interests of both Muslim and Sinhala communities."

The Prime Minister said so when Buddha Sasana Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe declined to answer a question raised by UNP Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana, who demanded to know why the excavations conducted in the archaeological site in Kuragala had been suspended. The Minister said that the matter did not come under the purview of his ministry and should be referred to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

MP Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that the two communities, Sinhala and Muslim, were vying for the ownership of the heritage site and that should not be permitted to develop into an issue that would result in a communal conflict.

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