Temples damaged in Uma Oya Project

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By 2017-07-18

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Ministry of Education has instructed the Director General of the Archeology Department, Professor Prashantha Bandula Mandawala to investigate reports that 21 temples, some with great historic value, in Bandarawela, Ella......and Welimada have been damaged owing to the construction of the controversial Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project.

A.L. A. Asoka Siriwardena, Additional Secretary to the Ministry has sent a letter (ED/10/NH/09/02-06) to Mandawala yesterday to investigate the issue and submit a report by 25 July 2017.

On Sunday, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) alleged that neither the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, the Department of Buddhist Affairs, nor the Department of Archeology has paid any attention to protect the places of worship that has been damaged.

Tennakoon added that among the temples which have been damaged is the Dova Raja Maha Viharaya, which is a protected heritage site. It dates back almost 2000 years and it is "famous for its large unfinished Buddha image, carved into the rock face, which is considered an example of Mahayana sculpture."

"The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of 2010 stated that nothing will happen to these temples. The current Director General of Archeology, Professor Prashantha Bandula Mandawala was a part of the team that prepared the EIA and now he is trying to cover up the damage to the Buddhist heritage of Uva.

Within the last 72 hours, the Bandarawela Sri Pushparama Temple has also been damaged," he said. Among the temples damaged are the Watagamuwa Wimalagiri Temple, Agodagama Sumanasramaya, Kurundugolla Vidarshanaramaya, Makulelle Purana Viharaya, Heeloya Purana Viharaya, Kirioruwa Anandaramaya, Bandarawela Pirivena, Bindunuwewa Temple, Pallathota Ella Temple, Ampitiya Bhikku Monastery, Dikkapitiya Meda Temple, Dhikkapitiya Pirivena, Kurukunde Temple and the Deeganatenna Temple.

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