International Buddhist Centre progress assessed

Daily Mirror, Dec 30, 2008

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The 10th meeting of the Steering Committee was held at the International Buddhist Centre located at Piliyandala to conduct an on site inspection to ascertain the progress undertaken on the project.

The Steering Committee of this important project is chaired by Mr. H.M.B. Ratnasiri, Secretary, Ministry of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Vidyajothi A.D.S Gunawardhane, Secretary Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management, Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman/ Director General of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Mr. L.D.Dickman, Deputy Director General (Infrastructure) of the BOI, senior officials of the BOI, the State Engineering Corporation, The Central Engineering Consultancy, the Road Development Authority and the National Water Supply Board.

The BOI International Buddhist Center is a large-scale project to showcase Buddhism and its contribution to society in a single and dedicated location.

It will seek to attract investment in Buddhism related projects and thus become a magnet for Buddhists all around the world as well as those who have an interest in the philosophy of Buddhism.

Under the Mahinda Chinthana, the Government has identified as one of its objectives “to make Sri Lanka a Global centre for the propagation of the teachings of the Lord Buddha”. This is done in order to “enlighten the citizens of the world on the achievements of peaceful co-existence through the Dhamma”.

The site for the project is at Kesbewa, Piliyandala, which is just 25 kilometers away from Colombo and 50 kilometers from the Bandaranaike International Airport. The land is close to the Bolgoda Lake, which is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the Western Province.

There are a number of elements to the project. The first is the construction of the Bodhigaraya, which is nearly complete and will soon be ready for the ceremonial placing of a sapling of the Bo Tree.

However the land surrounding the Bodhigaraya will consist of 14 lots, which are earmarked as sites for the International Buddhist Centres. The BOI is confident that Governments of Buddhist countries and religious organizations will invest in this project. The BOI has in that connection already generated interest for the project at missions in China, Japan and Korea and to visiting delegations from Buddhist countries.

Other areas have been identified as administrative areas, commercial areas, religious areas and areas earmarked for religious activities.The infrastructure within the center will include the construction of internal roads, the provision of water supply, storm water disposal through drains and culverts, power supply and telecommunications facilities for both foreign and local communications.

This novel project will encourage religious tourism as many Buddhist countries are undergoing rapid economic growth. Buddhism has also grown in importance in the west, notably in the USA, where many prominent Americans have espoused the Buddhist faith. Te international Buddhist centers will promote academic research and strengthen core values, which will also benefit the Sri Lankan society.