The UNESCO has warned that the historic Rangiri Vihara was in danger of losing World Heritage status due to the renovations to the site, jeopardising its archaeological value.
Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova expressed her dissatisfaction regarding the matter during a press conference held at the conclusion of her four-day visit. She pointed out that the archeological integrity of the Rangiri Vihara has been violated by the lack of maintenance and the renovation done by resident bhikkus.
According to an agreement entered into with the UN, the Sri Lankan Government is responsible for safeguarding the historic value of Rangiri Vihara, which houses 157 Buddha statues and murals dating back 2000 years.
A team of international experts that visited the country last year had warned against the renovations undertaken at the site. Although the Bhikkus opposed government intervention in the matter, Bokova maintained that the Sri Lanka government was duty bound to take action.
“It is the duty of a government to work to preserve the historical value of a site when concerns are raised regarding its security by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.”
UNESCO has warned that if the government does not remove the new constructions that are detrimental to the sites historical heritage immediately, the site is in danger of losing its World Heritage Status. The Rangiri Vihara was conferred World Heritage status in 1991.