Friday, 6 September 2002  
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Section of historic moat filled despite protests

From Hanwella group correspondent, Dharmasiri Wijeratne

Action has been taken by the Hanwella Rest House authorities to build an additional access road to the Rest House, located on Hanwella Fort premises by filling a portion of the historical moat built around the fort, despite protest by residents.

When the construction work began on August 25, the residents complained to the Western Province Industries, Social Services, Fisheries, Probation and Childcare Services and Tourism Minister Mahesh Almeida, who brought the matter to the notice of the Archaeological Department and Hanwella Divisional Secretary A. Ramanayake.

The Director General of Archaeology W.M. Wijayapala, when contacted over the phone told the media that he would look into the matter immediately.

Ramanayake too said that he had issued instructions to stop work. But to the surprise of the residents the barbed wire fence put up by them, preventing the construction had been removed and the work restarted, on September 2, without paying any heed to their protests, they said.

The Hanwella Fort believed to have been built by King Mayadunne of Sitawake to protect his Kingdom from local and foreign invasions, had been used by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British to invade Sitawake and the Kandyan Kingdoms respectively.

Historical records show that it has been destroyed in battles at various stages and had been either renovated or rebuilt by foreign invaders.

During the Portuguese period it was renovated by Don Jeronimo de Azavedo in 1594 and was rebuilt by Spilbergen during the Dutch period in 1684. It fell into the hands of the Kandyan King in 1761. The Fort was captured by the British around 1803.

Since the Fort is no more in existence the remaining portion of the historical moat is the only evidence of a star shaped fort at Hanwella.

The residents told the 'Daily News' that at a time when places of historical importance should be preserved for the future generation, erasing history by business minded individuals is really an unfortunate situation.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

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