Wagah, Oct 1 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today impressed upon the Union Government to intiate steps for the free movement of tourists between India and Pakistan.
He also demanded that a visa centre should be opened at Amritsar and Lahore to avoid unnecessary harassment to tourists and pilgrims from Punjab and neighbouring states, who have to travel all the way to Delhi for getting a visa to Pakistan. The visa rules should be simplified to encourage tourists and nationals of both the nations, he added.
Mr Badal was talking to mediapersons after flagging of the first truck loaded with tomatoes to Pakistan. Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and ministers Gulzar Singh Ranike and Manoranjan Kalia and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal were present on the occasion.
Mr Badal said that he had also urged the Centre to extend the rail freight corridor from Delhi to Ludhiana upto Attari. He had also urged the centre to set up an uninterrupted super express highway from Delhi to Amritsar.
The Chief Minister said that he had also urged the Centre to initiate the process for opening the Hussaniwala and Khem Karan borders with Pakistan to boost the overall development and progress of Punjab. The opening of these two borders along with the Wagah-Attari border would propel trade and economic activities in the region, he added.
Mr Badal informed that a Rs 300 crore-Integrated Check Post in 120 acres of land would be set up near the Wagah-Attari border within a period of two years.
Referring to the movement of trucks across the border, Mr Sukhbir Badal said that there was a tremendous scope of increasing the trade from the few designated items which had been permitted for trade through trucks. He said that this trade could further increase Punjab's advantage if sports goods, light engineering hand tools, machine tools, hosiery and processed food products are included.
He further said that the agriculture economy of the both countries would get a major boost with the opening of trade through this border.
The junior Badal praised the efforts of the Governments of India and Pakistan in taking this bold initiative to start trade through the road route. This would also usher in an era of renewed relationship of goodwill, amity and friendship, he added.