ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28

After Test match, Galle Stadium to be bowled out

By Shelani Perera

The newly-built pavilions of the Galle International Cricket Stadium are to be demolished after the upcoming Test match between Sri Lanka and England as the buildings were constructed in violation of laws, Urban Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said yesterday.

The Urban Development Authority is to demolish a section of the Galle stadium as the buildings were constructed in violation of an ordinance under which the area is declared as part of the Galle Heritage City. The Galle Fort area has been granted a World Heritage site status by UNESCO and the Antiquities Ordinance states that any form of construction within 500 metres of the Heritage city is a violation of the law.

The construction of the stadium took place after the Galle Municipal Council issued a conditional building permit on an application submitted by Sri Lanka Cricket. However the conditions stipulated that approval of the Department of Archaeology should be obtained prior to the construction, while the Archaeological Department had insisted that an Archaeological Impact Assessment should be carried out in keeping with the Antiquities Ordinance.

An official said the demolition would start after the Test match. Last week Urban Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardana submitted a Cabinet paper seeking approval for the demolition of all constructions that do not conform to the design approved by the UDA and the suspension of the Building Permit issued by the Galle Municipal Council.

Minister Gunawardana told The Sunday Times that an inquiry was underway against the Galle Municipal Council for issuing a building permit for the construction of the stadium.”We have already informed the Council that it has abused its delegated powers when giving approval for the construction. Furthermore it has ignored a ministry official’s objection, and approval was given when the official was not present. Even when the construction was taking place, they ignored all objections and went ahead with the development.

“I got Cabinet approval to demolish the building once the Test match is over and it will be removed. I have made it clear that I will not change my stance. The project had cost 40 million rupees but this sum is nothing compared to the recognition and the importance granted by UNESCO,” Minister Gunawardana said.

The Minister said the UDA suggested to the officials that they construct make shift buildings which was the norm followed in other countries.“This is the only way out, where buildings can be dismantled and stored, but the Cricket Board ignored all this. The Board has violated the rules. The construction was done by the Board for the Municipality,” the Minister said..

Meanwhile the Southern Province Cricket Association has hit back claiming that it has not violated any regulation, as it developed the stadium according to the Galle Municipal Council Building Permit. Southern Province Cricket Association Secretary Jayananda Warnaweera said the construction of three pavilions at a cost of 500 million rupees was legal and moves to demolish it were unjustifiable.

“Whenever meetings were held, officials concerned were present. No objections were made. It was only after the buildings came up, they have decided to object. Construction was done in three months. It did not come up overnight. Where were all these officials when it was being constructed. The objections are raised by officials who are against the development of the Galle city,” he said. Mr. Warnaweera said they had not been officially informed of the decision to demolish the stadium after the Test match.

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