for Sigiriya rock concert
A Tourism Ministry proposal backed by the U S and Norwegian governments
to be implemented in the garden at the entrance to the Sigiriya
fortress has run into a storm with strong protests from the Archaeology
Department and the Central Cultural Fund (CCP) .
project known as "Sigiriya Evening Walk" ran into controversy
this week after the protests and has prompted two Norwegian theatre
experts to call off the study programme and return to Colombo. They
are due to leave to their country today.
The USAID was
supporting the study on behalf of the US government and NORAD was
supporting the programme on behalf of the Norwegians. The project
was aimed at boosting tourism in and around Sigiriya by introducing
an "Evening Walk" where tourists were able to witness
enacted scenes on how Sigiriya operated in the ancient days.
were to be scenes of people working, bathing, and getting about
their normal work at the rock-fortress and girls and boys in the
village were to be given employment ," One of the members in
the committee which studied the project said. But strong objections
have been raised from the Archaeological department and the Central
Cultural Fund against the project.
Times learns that the Tourism ministry early this week attempted
to push through the project, despite these objections. Earlier a
group of experts including conservationists which discussed the
Tourism ministry proposal had cited their reasons against the project.
General A.P.A. Gunasekera told The Sunday Times that a series of
valid points had been brought up by the experts against the project.
Maintaining security at nights, the disturbance to the night atmosphere,
the possibility of disturbing hornets, the movement of coaches to
transport tourists at night were among the reasons against this
The Chief Incumbent
of the Ruwanseliya Seya and chief Sanganayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya,
Ven. Pallegama Hemaratana who was among those consulted on the proposal
also objected to it on the grounds that Sigiriya had served as a
monastic centre for various Buddhist sects and some of the scenes
to be enacted cannot be accepted.
said that after the initial objections raised by the experts the
tourism ministry had agreed to appoint a committee to study the
possibility of moving the project outside the garden area situated
at the bottom of the rock-fortress.
The Tourism Ministry at a meeting summoned early this week said
it was going ahead with the project, but representatives of archaeological
department and the CCF had raised objections and left. The Sunday
Times learns that the archaeological department and the CCF had
not been consulted when the latest proposal was prepared. A proposal
prepared by the tourism Ministry was sent to the CCF.
General W.S.Wijepala told The Sunday Times that his department which
is the custodian of Sigiriya was strongly opposed to the project
taking place in the original site.
He said that
they also believed that the scenes to be enacted would not properly
depict the history of Sigiriya. Acting Public Affairs officer of
the US Embassy, Ms. Cdy Taylor told The Sunday Times that the USAID
moved into provide technical assistance to the projects following
a request from the Tourism industry and the Ministry of Tourism.
She said that
in mid 2002 USAID provided technical assistance in which consultants
made recommendtions to the tourism industry, including the Sigiriya
site. Ms. Taylor said the USAID technical mission had consulted
the Archaeological Department and the CCF on a range of options
including the "Evening walk" at Sigiriya.
Ministry's Additional Secretary George Michael said that they would
be forced to think of a new project plan to boost the tourist industry
in the Sigiriya area.
Cultural Minister Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku told The Sunday Times
that he has summoned a meeting between the Archaeology Department,
CCF and the Tourism Ministry next week to discuss the issue.