Asia

Sri Lanka's Galle cricket stadium risks being demolished

England cricket fans watch the second day of the opening Test match between Sri Lanka and England from the top of the 17th century Dutch fort overlooking Galle Stadium in Galle (27 March 2012) Image copyright AFP
Image caption England fans watch their team play Sri Lanka at Galle Stadium in 2012

One of the world's most picturesque cricket stadiums is at risk of being demolished because it threatens the heritage status of a nearby fort.

Galle cricket stadium, in southern Sri Lanka, is famed for its stunning views of the Indian Ocean.

But it is the 17th Century Dutch fort which looms over the ground that has put it in danger.

Sri Lanka's cultural affairs minister Wijeyadasa Rakapakshe said the fort risks losing Unesco World Heritage status because of unauthorised construction nearby, including the 500-seat pavilion stand which was rebuilt after the ground was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sri Lanka have won most of the matches they have played here since 1998
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Standing on the fort affords a good view of the cricket below
Image copyright AFP
Image caption England are due to play here in November, and may end up being the last team to do so
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The stadium was devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which killed at least 31,000 people in Sri Lanka
Image copyright AFP
Image caption It was rebuilt afterwards - but the new pavilion blocks the view of the fort from the city's main road

Mr Rakapakshe said the government had been left with a choice: either remain on the World Heritage list, or keep the pavilion.

However, Arjuna Ranatunga - who led Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 World Cup as captain - has suggested a compromise: demolish the current stand, and put up temporary seating when Test matches were played.

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