The Minister of National Heritage said that huge sums are required to preserve and maintain 275,000 sites of archeological interest, when only a day earlier in my blog I had estimated it to be 100K. The problem is that not even 50,000 of these sites are actually properly recorded in a way that it is indexed and can be assured that it is not double counted elsewhere. So in reality his figure is more of a figment of his imagination than mine!! However as I have constantly maintained, it is their job to dream up numbers, but not to do anything about it. So how useful are they really?
Can any other country on Earth boast of so many archeological sites? So here we go again. I suggested a method first of protecting these sites. There is no point in preserving them if they cannot be protected from destruction. The ministry just does not have the resources to protect and preserve even 5,000 sites, so talking about 250,000 is just too much to comprehend, and I dare say he is even not serious about tackling the issue.
I do not envy the job of the Minister, however I do not know if he really has a blue print or suggestion on how he can make SOME headway in this area. It is important that taking a look at my previous blog entry suggestion of using the underutilized forces personnel first to protect, can then in some fashion use their skills in preserving or in some way ensuring when the time is right for excavations, then there is some method of taking off the wraps and beginning the work.
I am afraid I do not believe there are sufficiently qualified people in the field of archeology in Sri Lanka to even begin to tackle the problem. It would therefore be a matter of priority to train sufficient specialists in this area using some form of international assistance in this very specific area of preserving ancient sites, from destruction.
Education of our youth in this area is important so that the next generation can take the issue to a different level, and guard the national treasure as if it is theirs. Today, no one looks at a site other than ask the neighbors if they think that there still is some unexcavated treasure!!
It is this mindset that MUST change, I hope this Minister has the courage to go out on a limb and make a better case, rather than just pick a number out of a hat without a suggestion for their preservation, and instead provide a red rag to a bull!