Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayake assured that there is no longer a risk of UNESCO removing the historic Galle Fort from the list of World Heritage Sites as the government has taken measures to properly implement the UNESCO conditions.
The Minister after an observation tour of the area on Monday told the reporters that the UNESCO had recognized Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese first in 1588 and fortified by the Dutch later, as a live world heritage site considering its ancient architectural and monumental value and has set conditions to maintain the site to keep the designation.
In the past few years the site came under the threat of being removed from the World Heritage Sites list due to the unauthorized constructions violating the UNESCO conditions in the area.
However, as soon as the present government came to power, it paid attention to the UNESCO conditions and took steps to implement the recommendations in an accelerated manner. It is planned to remove 14 institutions from the Fort., the Minister said.
“We are trying to preserve the Galle heritage as our heritage and if the present state of Fort continued some of the old buildings will be deteriorated and become useless,” he said.
He said all development work in the Fort are being carried out without affecting the normal life of people.
The Minister said some claim that the government is trying to remove Olcott Central College but nobody talks about the inconvenience of the 2500 students having to study in the school in 70 perches of land.
He said discussions are underway to expand the school facilities in the same location considering the students’ convenience and without damaging the historic site.
“We take these decisions considering the country, the inheritances to be protected for the future and the economy of the country. Criticism is coming. But we do what is right as a government,” Minister Ratnayake said.
“It is a great victory to get the danger of losing World Heritage Site status to Galle Fort removed and if it was removed from the list of World Heritage Sites, that would have been a big disgrace to our country,” the Minister said.