UNESCO has warned that the Galle Fort may lose its world heritage status owing to illegal constructions within the Fort.
The National Heritage Ministry has received a letter in this regard, Minister of National Heritage Dr Jagath Balasuriya said.
The Galle Fort was recognized as a cultural heritage site for its unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Dr Balasuriya said that among the concerns raised by UNESCO is the new pavilion constructed at the Galle cricket ground near the Fort, the Galle port expansion which has an impact on the Fort and new houses and shops constructed inside the Fort premises.
He also said that villas in the Galle Fort have been modified as a result of which some of them have lost their colonial look.
“Some villas have been purchased by millionaires and architects who have changed the interior of those villas, and as a result of which they have lost that colonial look. We are investigating the fact that some of these houses and shops have been purchased outright by foreigners,” he said.
He said that the government is mindful of the concerns raised by UNESCO and takes it seriously and will respond accordingly.
The Minister said that he is in the process of discussing the concerns with the Urban Development Authority and other relevant officials and hopes to have it resolved soon.
Meanwhile the President of the Galle Heritage Fund, Parakrama Dahanayake said that they have not been informed about the concerns raised by UNESCO.
He however said that tenders were issued for two government institutions to occupy two locations within the Fort.
Report by Indika Sri Aravinda