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Playing pandu  with Galle's heritage    Pot Shot 


 Trade unions plan to hit back


Mahinda Rajapakse, John Seneviratne
and Athuda Seneviratne

2008 - The year of strikes

By Risidra Mendis, Arthur Wamanan, Nirmala Kannangara and Kshanika Argent

Trade unions have predicted the year 2008 to be a 'year of strikes' due to the failure of the Mahinda Rajapakse administration to address the demands of the trade unions and the working class for the last 25 months since assuming office.

The trade unions also charge that the 2008 budget has driven the masses to launch agitation campaigns, protests and strikes as the government has failed to address the needs of the people, who are currently burdened with a skyrocketing cost of living and an arduous tax regime.

"Although President Mahinda Rajapakse appeared as a trade union leader before the presidential election promising to address the problems of the working masses, it is a pity that he is now engaged in suppressing the trade unions," trade union representatives said.

Championing the need for a Workers' Charter while he was labour minister, Rajapakse today avoids that piece of legislation he fathered like the plague.

Against international labour laws

According to trade union leaders, Rajapakse has let down the trade unions badly and has acted against the international labour laws to suppress trade union activities with a vengeance.

"Next year is likely to be a year of trade union suppression as well. Almost all trade unions were subjected to harassment in 2007. As the trade unions are now up in arms against government's failure to address their grievances for the past 25 months we are ready to hold protests and agitations followed by general strikes islandwide to win our demands," many trade union representatives told The Sunday Leader.

Trade unions also accused Labour Minister Athauda Seneviratne of not showing any interest to safeguard the rights of the working masses. They said that it was the duty of a labour minister to play the role of mediator and discuss issues with the government whenever trade unions presented their problems to him.

"What is the use of a deaf and dumb labour minister if he cannot take the side of the trade unions?. Even when the trade unions were suppressed he never took the side of the trade unions and instead spoke against us. It would be better to change the portfolio of  labour  given to him and offer him the portfolio of  minister to safeguard the government, as he always speaks on behalf of the government," the trade unions charged. 

Mass protests

The JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) sources however told The Sunday Leader that the NTUC along with its affiliated trade unions were planning to hold mass protests and agitation campaigns islandwide against the government in 2008 for its failure to put a halt to bribery, corruption, waste and inefficiency within the government.

"Although the UNP and the JVP in parliament raise their concerns over these issues the government has so far failed to put a halt to these illegal activities. As a result, the NTUC would be launching several agitation campaigns, protests and strikes to put a halt to bribery, corruption, waste and inefficiency within the government, which in turn would help bring down the cost of living considerably," NTUC sources said.    

The sources further stated that since the government has failed to increase the salaries of public, private and estate sector workers, the NTUC would launch strong trade union action by early January.

Immediate salary revision needed

"At a time when the prices of all essential commodities are going up the government has failed to increase the salaries of the 630,000 work force in the public, private and the estate sectors. In such a backdrop how can the people survive?" the union sources questioned.

"Public, private and estate sector employees need an immediate salary revision to fight  the increasing cost of living. So plans are afoot to launch severe trade union action in early January," the NTUC sources said.

Meanwhile, Chairman, UNP backed Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Johnston Fernando told The Sunday Leader that in order to provide relief to the downtrodden masses, massive strikes would be launched by the UNP affiliated trade unions from February next year.

Speaking further, the UNP MP said the JVP does not have a right to speak on behalf of the working class as they have clearly demonstrated that they were in support of the government.

"At the third reading of the budget the JVP showed the people of the country where their support lies. They have now proved to the people that they are only concerned about their personal welfare and their numbers in parliament. The 37 JVP parliamentarians have sold their political positions for money to the government."

Downtrodden masses

"Hence the JVP cannot talk on behalf of the people anymore. They cannot address the people's grievances any longer. It is only the UNP that can address the grievances of the downtrodden masses and could find solutions to their problems," Fernando said.

According to Fernando, the JVP's decision to abstain from voting was only beneficial to the governing party and to the JVP itself.  

Finding fault with the three TNA MPs who abstained from voting on December 14, Fernando said that although they were critical of the government for harassing Tamils, they dashed their own community's aspirations at the third reading of the budget vote.

"If they were so concerned about their community they would have voted against the budget. What is this double standard?" queried Fernando.

Fernando further said that the UNP affiliated trade unions - the Jathika Vathu Kamkaru Sangamaya, Jathika Adyapana Sevaka Sangamaya, Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya and the Jathika Rajya Vurththiya Samithi Sammelanaya would launch strikes  and other trade union action from February in order to force the government to address the demands of the people. 

 "The government has said that they could end the war by December 31 and would be able to give relief to the workers from January 1, 2008," Fernando said, adding that they were waiting for the government to keep its word.

Power sector engineers demand to be heard

President, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Engineers' Union (EU), Jayawilal Meegoda says that the government should stop non-competitive bids for power projects next year in order to provide relief to the consumers.

 "We are the most powerful union in the CEB and we are agitating for open bids to be called for power projects instead of non competitive bids, so that the benefits could be  passed on to the consumers. Once open bids are called the CEB could choose the lowest bidder and offer the work to him. But what happens now is completely against our stance. What is the reason for the government to go for non competitive bids which is not suitable to a country like ours?" queried Meegoda.

Meegoda told The Sunday Leader that as a responsible union they would always take decisions keeping in mind the national interest rather than their personal interest.

Meegoda further said that the time has  come for the government to give the engineers the freedom to join in the decision-making process.

"A free hand should be given to the engineers in the decision making process in the CEB.  But now we do not have that authority and only those who do not have any knowledge of the subject take the decisions which is altogether unacceptable. As a result there is frustration among the engineers which results in brain drain which is detrimental to the country. Although we brought this to the notice of the President, Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and Lalith Weeratunga nothing has happened so far," added Meegoda.

Meegoda added that the EU has opposed the proposed wind power projects, which would result in the same consequences as that of thermal power projects.

According to Meegoda, if the government continues to ignore the EU decisions, which are based on the national interest, they would take trade union action. 

Meanwhile, the JVP affiliated Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LVSS) told The Sunday Leader that many strikes, protests and pickets are on the cards for 2008.

"We are discussing the possibility of launching a token strike in early January as the government has failed to keep its promises given to us in October," Convener, LVSS, Ranjan Jayalal said.

According to Jayalal, the government has repeatedly failed to honour its promises and the trade unions are now compelled to win their demands through strikes.

"Next year would be a year of strikes in the country.  Since the government has failed miserably in addressing the trade union demands for the past 25 months it should expect more strikes, agitations and protests than work in 2008. We patiently waited till our demands were met. We had to call off strikes temporarily on many occasions due to various assurances given by the government. But the government has broken all its pledges," Jayalal said.

He reiterated that although the government and the Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne were requesting the trade unions to make sacrifices and withhold their demands for some time for the sake of the country because of  the ongoing war, Jayalal queried as to why the hierarchy and the higher officers too could not follow the same procedure for the sake of the country.

"The CEB employees are always ready to sacrifice their demands for a while but if the higher officials do not want to help the government in this process why should we?" asked Jayalal.

However, he stressed the point  that although their trade union members were not harassed openly they were subjected to harassment officially by depriving them of promotions.

"Whenever our members face interviews for promotions the interview boards ask them whether they are affiliated to such and such a trade union and if  they say 'yes'  they are disqualified  for promotions," Jayalal added.

 

Water Board to go dry if union demands not met

The government has pushed the trade unions to embark on agitations, protests and strikes, claimed the National Water Supply and Drainage Board Employees' Union (NWSDBEU).  "We are strictly against the government's move to privatise the NWSDB in 2008. Although the government in 2004 assured that the country's water management would not be privatised, the very same people are now in the process of selling the country's water resources to multinational companies," charged Secretary, NWSDBEU, Upali Ratnayake speaking to The Sunday Leader.

According to Ratnayake, the trade union has demanded the implementation of  Salary Circular No: 6/2006, and for the granting of housing and distress loans during the whole of  2007, but to no avail. NWSDB is an 'A' grade institution but unlike the other 'A' grade institutions we have been deprived of a medical scheme for our dependents, and housing and distress loans. At the NWSDB only the employee is entitled to the benefits of the medical scheme, but in other institutions the dependents too are beneficiaries of the medical scheme. But so far the government has failed to address these issues," claimed Ratnayake.

"As a result there would be several strikes, and if the government still fails to address our grievances then a water cut would be inevitable to win our demands," Ratnayake asserted.

 

Teachers ready to teach bitter lesson

The JVP affiliated Ceylon Teachers' Service Union (CTSU) has called on the government to pay attention to the trade union demands rather than continuing with trade union suppression.

"2007 could be described as the year of trade union suppression. Several trade union representatives were taken into custody for engaging in trade union action.  Although the government takes legal action against the trade union leaders it is totally against international labour laws. Since many trade union struggles and strikes are on the cards for 2008 we have to expect more trade union suppression in the year to come," noted General Secretary, CTSU, Mahinda Jayasinghe.

According to Jayasinghe, in the event of the government failing to rectify their salary anomalies before the end of 2007, they would start the new school term with a series of trade union action including strikes.

"As predicted by us soon after the budget in November, next year would be a year of agitation, protests and strikes. To start with the CTSU would launch a crippling strike in government schools at the beginning of the new term if our demands are not met before December 31," warned Jayasinghe. 

 

Budget has ignored the working class - petroleum sector

Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Petroleum Corporation Branch says that the year ahead would be a busy year for the trade unions as the 2008 budget has failed to address the demands of the working class.

"The government has ignored the working class in its 2008 budget and instead had increased the perks and privileges of the President, ministers and other higher rankers. The UPFA government has miserably cut down the interest payable on Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees' Trust Fund (ETF) contributions from 2004. In 2002, the then UNP government introduced an Act to pay 3% more than the prevailing bank interest rate to the ETF and EPF contributions. But now, although the  bank interest rate is 19% the government pays only 10% for ETF and EPF contributions which would be a definite cause for our agitations in the year ahead," Secretary, JSS Petroleum Branch, Ananda Palitha said.

According to Ananda, the government has failed to rectify the salary anomalies in most of the government institutions and has not allocated enough funds for distress loans and housing loans in the 2008 budget.

"The government meanwhile has misled the people by claiming a payment of Rs. 2500 CoL allowance to the public sector which is totally incorrect. The government will only add Rs.375 to the present Rs.2125 CoL allowance. When the government increases the President's budgetary allocation by millions it has only increased  Rs. 375 for the employees for the first six months," added Ananda.

Speaking further, he stated the government's directive to supply diesel at Rs.55 per litre to the

--CEB for thermal power generation has caused severe losses to the CPC.

 "The CPC increases the price of petrol in the country to cover up its losses incurred as a result of the subsidy offered to the CEB. Athough the government says the price increases are because of the increase in world market prices, it is absolutely incorrect," said Ananda. 

Ananda further said that the crash of the CPC was inevitable during next year if Mihin Lanka, CGR, Police, CEB and the three armed forces do not pay their dues without further delay

"It is the Treasury that issues the directive to the CPC to release fuel on credit. If the Treasury fails to intervene at this time of crisis  the CPC would be in serious trouble. If things go on like this there is no other option, but to launch stern trade union action," added Ananda.

 

Health employees' irked by suppression

Chairman, Health Services Trade Union Alliance, Saman Rathnapriya told The Sunday Leader that the government instead of looking for solutions to their demands had tried to suppress them.

He stated that the government in its budget did not give solutions or respond to their demands and had tried to suppress the trade union through court orders.

"All these issues will explode together next year. There will be massive trade union action to win our demands, next year," he said.

 

Telecom unions still prepared to talk

Trade unions continue to be unhappy over the government's silence and lethargy regarding the issues brought forward during this year and stated that next year would see a lot of trade union actions, as the government had failed to address their issues.

Chairman, Union of Posts and Telecommunication Services Officers, Navaratne Bandara said the trade unions would not resort to strike action immediately, but would hold discussions with the government and the authorities in order to find a solution.

However, he stated that the discussions had yielded nothing this year and the employees continue to face issues related to their salaries.

He also stated that the government had  tried to suppress trade union activities through legal means, which the unions had tackled successfully.

"The government cannot suppress the trade unions. On November 27 we had a strike, which was over within 24 hours because the government realised that it could do nothing.  However, the government has continued to be silent on several issues we had raised during this year. The next year is most likely to be a year of massive trade union action due to the negligence  of the government in meeting our demands," he said.

 

Transport sector warns of travel chaos

Three wheeler drivers have planned to hold a strike next year if the government does not address their grievances.

According to the Trishaw Drivers' Association they have been facing many problems such as the government's decision to ban two stroke trishaws from January 2008, the failure to give three wheeler drivers a fuel subsidy and the unreasonable fines imposed by the traffic police. These are only a few  of the grievances of trishaw drivers.  

President, All Island Three Wheeler Drivers' Association (AITWDA), Lalith Dharmasekara said that although the government has assured to give a fuel subsidy from the 2008 budget nothing seems to be happening.

"The government assured us a fuel subsidy for trishaws in the 2008 budget. But for the last few years the government has failed miserably to provide concessions to trishaw drivers although trishaws are used by many people and is considered  an essential service. We will see whether the government would address our problems next year. If it does not happen we will consider a major strike in order to show the government how important this service is," Dharmasekara said.   

Meanwhile, the private bus operators are planning to launch a strike by end January 2008 if the government does not address their needs.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, President, Private Bus Owners' Association (PBOA) Gemunu Wijeratne said time table issues, permit issues, bribes paid to time keepers, the lack of a fuel subsidy and the rising cost of tyres and spare parts for buses is yet to be resolved by the government.

"There is no development by the Transport Authority with regard to the transport sector in the country. Officials from the Transport Authority are not interested in developing the transport sector for the benefit of the public. We have discussed this issue with Transport Minister Dulles Alahapperuma and he has agreed to a private-public partnership between the PBOA and the government. But the Ministry is yet to act on this," Wijeratne said.

The All Ceylon Private Omnibus Owners' Federation (ACPOOF) Co Chairman Anjana Priyanjith said their decision to strike will depend on the government's decisions. "We have to wait till next year and see if the government will address our grievances. If we are not satisfied with the government's decisions we will consider a strike," Priyanjith said.

 

Railway workers say many strikes planned

Secretary, All Ceylon Railway Employees General Union, Sumathipala Manawadu said his union plans to strike in 2008 as the government has failed to meet their demands.

"We haven't set a date for our strikes yet as we are still discussing the issues that we face with our members. But we plan to have many strikes in 2008. We have on many occasions asked the government to look into issues such as a salary increment for our workers and the rising cost of living. People cannot live  due to the high prices of essential items such as milk powder, rice, flour and coconut. However we have realised that the government is not interested in solving our issues," Manawadu said.

He added that in the past their workers had succeeded in solving their issues through the strikes they held. "It doesn't matter to us what government is in power. We only want a solution to the problems faced by our workers. People should fight for their rights and stage strikes to get what they want. The situation in the country is such that you have to demand what you want from the government in order to get it," Manawadu explained.

He went on to say that the government has now realised that the only way to stop trade unions from striking is to use police force and take the strikers to court.

"We are not afraid of striking. We will continue to strike until the government finds solutions to our problems. The strikes in 2008 will be different to the strikes we have held this year. We will show the government this time that our strikes need to be taken seriously," Manawadu said.


Playing pandu  with Galle's heritage


Debris piled at the stadium post tsunami 2004
and (inset) Dinesh Gunawardena

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Newly built pavilions of the Galle International Cricket Stadium will be demolished shortly, now that the third and final test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England has concluded - to honour state obligations as a signatory to the World Heritage Convention and the Antiquities Ordinance.

The undertaking was given by Urban Development Minister, Dinesh Gunewardena to the UNESCO mission in Colombo with the illegal construction of three pavilions at the venue in violation of the Antiquities Ordinance and the World Heritage Convention drawing much ire. With complaints being lodged with the World Heritage Centre in Paris, Sri Lanka feared a possible delisting due to non-compliance, a disgrace for the country before the international community.

Further, ICOMOS Sri Lanka together with the Department of Archaeology too have been mounting pressure that cricket authorities should not violate the Antiquities Ordinance and recommended corrective steps.

A fortnight ago, Minister Gunewardena who was brought under serious pressure by the many concerned parties to correct the wrong and save face as the island stands to be disgraced, submitteda cabinet paper seeking approval to carry out demolition work and to suspend the building permit issued by the Galle Municipal Council (GMC) authorising the constructions.

"The Galle MC has abused the powers delegated. The obligations have been ignored," Minister Gunawardena said.

In violation of the law

As the plot thickens, there is an inquiry underway against the GMC over the issuance of a permit in stark violation of the law while cricket authorities palm off responsibility to the GMC for permitting construction.

However, according to a strongly worded letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse by ICOMOS President, Architect/Archeologist, Prashantha Mandawala on October 24, 2007 there are some 10 wrongs committed by various parties in permitting construction. (See box)

The letter states that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has failed to obtain approval from the Department of Archaeology as required under Section 24 of the Antiquities Ordinance'which supersedes all other domestic laws'in application thereby committing an offence.

It adds:"Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials have disgraced Your Excellency's image by publicly stating that the unlawful, unethical and unauthorised construction that have been effected at the site are in accordance with the instructions given by Your Excellency."

Initially, the UDA recommended makeshift buildings in the run up to the test cricket match, as is the norm followed in other countries without putting up permanent structures. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has put up permanent structures at the cost of Rs. 50 million with the Galle MC's blessings - all earmarked for dismantling now.

Claims of non-violation

Adding to the controversy, the Southern Province Cricket Association (SPCA) claims non-violation of any rules and laments the loss of structures and investment.

Claims Jayananda Warnaweera "It was built as per the municipal permit. Three pavilions cost some Rs. 50 million and it took three months to construct them. They did not metamorphosis suddenly. We have not been officially informed of a decision to dismantle the pavilions."

The UDA officials are now poised to dismantle three pavilions as they fall within 500 m of the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site. The constructions were based on a conditional building permit issued by the Galle MC on an application submitted by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

However, Paris was alerted on the constructions on September 24, 2007 by President, ICOMOS, Architect/Archaeologist, Prashantha B. Mandawala who lodged his strong protests against the construction work of the Galle International Cricket Stadium to Director, World Heritage Centre, Francesco Bandarin citing the violation of regulations and agreements thereby putting the site's status in danger.

On the same day, Mandawala wrote to President Mahinda Rajapakse, a copy of which was sent to Bandarin in Paris where he listed out a few decisions made in a bid to protect the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site and to prevent the violation of the Antiquities Ordinance.

Recommended for demolition

The letter said that all plans should officially be submitted to the Department of Archaeology, Galle Heritage Foundation and the UNESCO National Commission for preliminary planning prior to submitting the same to Galle MC.

'The buildings belong to the GMC and the existing single story is recommended for demolition. Further, the existing indoor nets should be kept as there is a controversy surrounding it.' Importantly, Mandawala adds that all stands should be temporarily built only for each match played and all earth tiers should be removed to obtain a better view of the Galle Fort from the main road.

"The present construction at the site has violated all these agreements putting the site in great danger of being delisted. I would like to add that the Dutch built Galle Fort became world famous not because the fort is shown on television during cricket matches but due to its status as a World Heritage Site amongst 644 cultural properties in the world. There are only about 20 countries playing cricket while 138 countries are signatories to the World Heritage Convention," Mandawala has noted in his letter.

The old town of Galle and its fortifications were declared part of the World Heritage Sites in 1988 under Article 1 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted in 1972.

'Cultural heritage'

Accordingly, monuments, groups of buildings and related sites are considered 'cultural heritage'due to their outstanding universal value. The Dutch built Galle Fort site includes monuments, groups of buildings and the site itself.

The exact site is described by Prof. Ashley de Vos in his concept proposal for the Rehabilitation Of The Tsunami Devastated City Of Galle Through Human Resource Development as,"Galle Fort is located in southern Sri Lanka, 120 km from Colombo. It is a unique monument and remains the best-preserved example of a fortified colonial town in South Asia. In 1986, the fortified port town of Galle, 90 acres in extent, with massive rampart walls, ten bastions with pepper pot sentry points and 648 buildings, all laid out within its walls, was nominated to the World Heritage list."

But the development of the site by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has proved contentious since day one.

On July20, 2006, in his capacity as Director General, Galle City Development Plan Project, Prof. Ashley de Vos officially lodged his protest with Director General, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Dr. Francesco Bandarin claiming that the tsunami devastated cricket stadium was being reconstructed in violation of the UNESCO guidelines and domestic laws.

Regional sports complex

He proposed a master plan for the redevelopment of Galle that identified an alternate location, 700 hectares in extent and in close proximity to the proposed Colombo-Matara Highway which would include a regional sports complex. The said complex will include stadia for cricket, football, athletics, swimming, indoor sports etc.

De Vos wrote to President Mahinda Rajapakse on May 25, 2006 informing that there was no provision for the construction of a building within 400 yards of an archaeological monument.

He also spelt out details of the plans to put up a regional sports complex that would include a cricket stadium, a viable alternative that should be considered by the sports authorities facilitating efforts to conserve heritage.

Interestingly enough, Director General, Dr. Senerath Dissanayake also wrote to then Chairman, Board of Control for Sri Lanka Cricket, Jayantha Dharmadasa quoting provisions of the Archaeological Ordinance violated by the Board and urging corrective measures to be taken in this regard.

Construction authorised

But all the protests went nowhere, and giving an interesting political twist to the tale, Presidential Coordinating Secretary, Sajin Vass Gunawardena promptly wrote back to Dharmadasa informing that'He is directed by the President's Secretary to inform you that reconstruction work of the Galle International Cricket Stadium is authorised as envisaged in your letter of request.'

Further, Vass Gunawardena has requested Dharmadasa to submit a work programme providing all relevant details for the information of the Presidential Secretary.

On May 31, 2006 an assistant secretary of the presidential secretary, Harsha Wijewardena wrote to Dharmadasa informing that the President would in due course give a date for the foundation stone laying ceremony of the main pavilion at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

On March 20, 2006, stating a few home truths, President, ICOMOS Sri Lanka, Prashantha B. Mandawala wrote to Director General, UDA wherein he stated,"UNESCO has declared the Old Town of Galle and its fortifications as a World Heritage Site on December 9, 1988. As such it is the duty of the government of Sri Lanka not to take any steps to deteriorate any values of the site and its surroundings, which would affect the values of the site that were prevailing at the time of inception. Therefore, developing the Galle Cricket Stadium to the international level will be out of the question as it is located within the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site."

Strong protest

He added that the only possibility of developing the said cricket stadium was the renovation of the premises due to the tsunami's devastating impact and possibly minimum development due to the extensive damage caused to the structures.

Mandawala lodged his strong protest on the same day in writing with the UDA regarding the general destruction caused to the fabric and environment of the Galle Fort, warning that it is on the verge of increase, which might lead to the delisting of the Old Town, and its fortifications from the World Heritage List.

After a year of passing the buck, violating regulations and state party obligations, now the very same UDA is called upon to dismantle the unauthorised constructions at great cost before Sri Lanka becomes severely embarrassed before the international community that already takes a rather dim view of the island.

Presidential approval is there - Warnaweera

Manager, Galle International Cricket Stadium, Jayananda Warnaweera said that they have received written permission from President Mahinda Rajapakse to go head with construction. "We did not seek permission from anybody as the Head of State has granted approval and was for its development,"he said.

 

Only renovations - Sri Lanka Cricket

Chairman, National Development Centre (NDC) of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Priyantha Algama admitted that the renovation process of the Galle International Cricket Stadium was done but denied that any expansion work was done.

'We only renovated,'he said and added that Presidential approval had been obtained for the purpose. 'The President himself has approved the project.' 'Only the existing buildings such as the pavilion and the media centre of the stadium were upgraded,' he said.

 

List of violations

1.         Plans conditionally approved by the GMC have violated agreements with UNESCO and the Galle Heritage Foundation.

2.         Contractors have violated the conditional approval given by the GMC.

3.         Sri Lanka Cricket has failed to obtain approval from the Department of Archaeology thus committing a serious offence.

4.         SLC has not obtained required approval from the Galle Heritage Foundation.

5.         SLC has not obtained approval from Sri Lanka National Commission of UNESCO.

6.         SLC has violated the Antiquities Amendment Act No. 24 of 1998 by not requesting for an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA).

7.         SLC does not have any authority to commence construction as they have not met conditions of the approval given by GMC.

8.         SLC lacked authority to commence construction due to not meeting conditions of approval given by the GMC.

9.         SLC, the architects and the contractor violated agreements reached during the committee meeting appointed by President Mahinda Rajapakse by constructing buildings without leaving the agreed corridor of 120 m between the proposed media building and the cricket club building.

10.        SLC has violated the lease agreement with GMC by not submitting proposed developments to the cricket grounds. As such, all constructions that have been completed by SLC are illegal.

 

Demolition on - UDA

Top UDA officials told The Sunday Leader that it had been finally decided to demolish all constructions built in violation of the domestic law, the Heritage Convention, under which the area is declared as part of the Galle Heritage City.

 

Laws and obligations violated - ICOMOS

President, ICOMOS Sri Lanka, Architect and Archeologist, Prashantha Mandawala told The Sunday Leader that provisions of the Antiquities Ordinance and World Heritage Convention have been severely breached by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) due to unauthorised constructions.

The stadium is situated within the buffer zone of the Galle Heritage Site and Paris approval is necessary to alter such. This is why we have requested for their demolition and now that the test match is over, the illegally constructed pavilions will be dismantled.

Clear instructions were issued not to put up permanent structures. Press box was to be a make shift one. The indoor nets are also unauthorised, he said.

Mandawala added that while archaeological concerns should not hinder development, development should not take away the universal value of a place.'Both aspects must be ensured,'he insisted.

He said that President Rajapakse himself has informed that a clear view of the ramparts should be there but the view too had been obstructed.

SLC has violated almost every condition without any concurrence from the Galle Heritage Foundation. This is only one out of 644 world sites and 138 countries are signatories to the World Heritage Convention unlike cricket that is played by less than 20 nations. Furthermore, if the site's value is diminished, UNESCO will list it as a threatened site and even delist it which will be a disgrace. It happened only once in 1980,'Mandawala said.

 

Permission not obtained - Heritage Foundation

Chairman, Galle Heritage Foundation,  JVP Parliamentarian Ajith Kumara told The Sunday Leader that special permission should be obtained from a sub committee in the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to undertake any constructions within the Galle Fort.

"Every plan should go through that sub committee. This is even necessary to change the structure of an existing building as well,"he said.

Galle Heritage Foundation is a consolidated body of the UDA, Galle Urban Council, Archeological Department, Central Cultural Fund (CCF), Government of Netherlands and a few other institutes working towards conserving the city's heritage.

Ajith Kumara complained that the Galle International Cricket Stadium was reconstructed post tsunami without the required approvals. 


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