Dec 28, 2016

Rock excavation ruins historic Pokunugala Featured

Permission has reportedly been granted to contractors to excavate the historic Pokunugala in Polonnaruwa.

The 25-acre site with ancient ruins had been a reserved area, but six quarries are being run of late, residents say.

The pond there is being used by farmers to irrigate around 25 acres of paddy land at every Maha season when water in short supply.

Fifty five-year-old W.M. Bisomenike said the nearby Pokunugala village had around 200 families, who have their houses located around the historic rock.

According to elderly villagers, a Buddhist temple existed atop Pokunugala, and its resident monk disappeared after entering a door opened near the pond.

Thereafter, no monk came to live there and the temple was ruined and only its shrine room, pillars and stone steps to the pond remain.

Bisomenike said it was a national crime to destroy this place, but that the authorities are on the side of the quarry owners.

Looks like a battlefield during daytime

Another villager K.G. Gunapala said that with the rock breaking going on, the place looked like a battlefield during daytime.

The ancient treasures stored there could already have been stolen, he said.

He said authorities have turned a deaf ear when they pointed out the historical importance of Pokunugala.

Villagers told to lodge complaint

Attempt to contact district secretary Ranjith Ariyaratne failed, as his office said he was away on official duty.

An official at the office said villagers could visit the secretariat and lodge a complaint orally or in writing.

(pictures: W.A. Piyatilake)