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Hands off Sigiriya!

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I have long been an aficionado of our nation's cultural heritage. My late father the archaeologist D.T.Devendra helped preserve it.  The following aide-memoire attempts to expose and finish off this mad proposal to provide a mechanized lift to Sigiriya's summit, actively and incomprehensibly supported by the DG/Archaeology.

1. In terms of the Antiquities Ordinance No 9 of 1940, Section 34, the erection of any building or structure upon an archaeological reserve can be done only with the approval of the DG/A.  In terms of Section 10(c) of the Antiquities (Amendment) Act No. 24, of 1998, the DG/A is obliged "to protect and maintain such archaeological heritage" as he is empowered to inventorize.

The implications of the approval evidently given by the DG/A for the construction of the mother of all lifts by the Sigiriya rock are as follows:

The whole project is not calculated to protect and maintain the archaeological heritage at Sigiriya.  On the contrary the mere setting up of the lift arrangement will involve tremendous noise and vibrations at the site, which would endanger the stability of the paintings; afterwards, the sight of a colossal lift structure will cause the sylvan surroundings at the base of the rock and around to be ruined.  All this to relieve affluent tourists from a tiring climb!

Rather than undertake the modernization of Sigiriya, it is for the government of Sri Lanka, if not the DG/A, to do all that is possible to maintain the ancient aspect (by necessary conservation measures) of this long standing Buddhist monastery and not build new structures there.

Senaka Bandaranayake's ill-advised  attempt (approved by the then PM Ranil Wickremaeinghe!) to introduce a song and dance project with sound and light at the base of the rock for the benefit of affluent tourists, was aborted by heavy public criticism spear-headed by local patriots  of the "Sigiriya surakime samithiya".  Likewise, may genuine lovers of incomparable Sigiriya shoot down this equally mad project in flames.   
Tissa Devendra

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