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Union govt to upgrade facilities at Wagah-Attari

Written by: Staff
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Wagah, Jul 3: With the magnitude of trade with Pakistan increasing, the Union Government is also set to give its nod to a multicrore plan to develop Wagah-Attari as a state-of-the art dry port.

According to the ambitious proposal, Wagah check post will have three separate entries for visitors, cargo and VVIPs to the neighbouring country. While the near by Attari railway station may be shifted close to the International Border (IB) to reduce security requirements for the bi-weekly Samjhauta Express.

Submitted to the Union Home Ministry by the Punjab government, the proposal enlists acquisition of over 30 acres of land around the check post for construction of cargo terminals, visitors galleries and offices for the Customs and Immigration departments. The proposal was prepared by the state government in consultation with the Border Security Force (BSF) that mans the check post and the Customs and Immigration departments.

The land would be acquired by the state government for parking, construction of hotels and restaurants and for quarantine facilities.

Union Miniser of Railways Lalu Prasad, who visited Attari recently, had also consented to shifting of the railway station.

However, this decision would only be taken after high-level consultations in Delhi, a senior railway officals said at Amritsar.

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kirandeep Singh Bhullar said the Special Task Force, headed by state Chief secretary K R Lakhanpal.

has already toured the area for on the ground assessment ''Work on transforming Wagah into a modern port would be taken up on priority basis,'' Mr Bhullar said.

Besides cargo terminals, Wagah will also undergo a general facelift so as convert the check-post into a major tourist attraction. The number of tourists visiting the check post for the daily retreat ceremony have been on the rise ever since former Prme Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee undertook his historic trip to Lahore on a bus through the check post.

The development plan for Wagah would include upgrading parking facilities besides providing toilets, clean drinking water and hotels for the tourists, the Deputy Commissioner said. The plan also involves ''granting easy passage to the buses to Lahore and Nankana Sahib'', he added.

The Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni, during her visit to Wagah in April, had indicated developing the check post into a major tourist destination. She had assured that her ministry would make funds available for this project which should also include giving the near by historical villages of Serai Amanat Khan and Pul Kanjari a facelift, so as to convert these places into important tourist spots.

During his visit to Attari and Wagah in April, Union Home secretary V K Duggal had taken note of the difficulties traders face at the two places due to lack of proper facilities, including the delays in getting clearance for their consignments.

Mr Duggal in his meeting with Punjab government, BSF officers, railway and Immigration and Customs officials had expressed the desire of turning Attari into a modern railway station, having all facilities available at international airports.

UNI

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