I will quote the full text of the report because I think its important enough:
"JHU Leader Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero has said the Buddhist clergy and the authorities were at loggerheads due to the Archaeology Act.
"Buddhist monks and the Archaeological Department are at odds due to the Archaeology Act that was introduced by foreigners after their invasion," he had told a media workshop on the protection of artifacts held in Sigiriya.
Speaking further he had said, "This country has sacred relics, not artifacts. Officials of the Archaeological Department are unaware of the situation. These belong to the Buddhist clergy."
Ven. Medhananda Thero said that the Act "was sending monks to jail while officials were going to hell."
He urged authorities not to start any more trouble with the clergy who had cared for the country’s artifacts for more than 2,000 years.
The matter has been brought to the attention of the President as well as the subject minister, the monk had added."
To my mind, this is a rather curious claim. The archaeological sites and artifacts are vested with the state and administered by the Archeology department. The Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero now seems to want to throw over the law of the land on the basis that it was introduced by foreigners. If this logic is followed to its conclusion we need to throw the entire legal system and much else, democracy included, out.
The claim that "the clergy who had cared for the country’s artifacts for more than 2,000 years" is dubious as well. The ruined cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and elsewhere had been abandoned and taken by the jungle. They lay forgotten and undisturbed for centuries until British explorers stumbled upon them in the 19th century. No one even knew of the artifacts, much less cared for them until the British period.
Of course there is a profitable trade in artefacts, although how small or large I do not know, and the Archaeology department has been fighting this with its limited means. This move seems designed to weaken the department even further.