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Kartarpur Corridor: India tells Pak to allow 5,000 pilgrims a day, curb Anti-India activities

By Simran Kashyap

New Delhi, July 14: The second India-Pakistan talk on the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor is underway on Sunday at Wagah, Pakistan.

Experts from India and Pakistan are expected to discuss issues related to the Kartarpur Corridor, including connectivity at the Zero Point and the number of pilgrims to be allowed, government.

Kartarpur Corridor: India requests Pakistan to allow daily entry of 5,000 pilgrims

Briefing about the meeting, MEA said,''India conveyed concerns regarding possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas in India as result of earth filled embankment road or a causeway that is proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side & that it shouldn't be built even in interim.''

''India requested Pakistan that 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor everyday, given the expected high demand on our side,'' MEA further said.

India also requested Pakistan that 10,000 additional pilgrims be allowed to visit on special occasions. Also, India requested Pakistan that not only Indian nationals, but also Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) holding OCI cards be allowed to use KartarpurCorridor facility.

Details of bridge that India is building on its side were shared and Pakistan was urged to build a bridge on their side. ''This would address flooding related concerns & ensure smooth pilgrimage. Pakistan agreed, in principle, to build bridge at earliest,'' Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said during a media briefing.

''Pending construction of bridge over old Ravi creek by Pakistan on their territory,India offered to make interim arrangements for making corridor operational in November 2019, given historic importance of 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji,'' the External Affairs Ministry said.

SCL Das, joint secretary (internal security), Ministry of Home Affairs, said that the neighbouring country assured India it won't allow any anti-India operations to take place on its soil.

"Pakistan side has assured our delegation in response to the request made that no anti-India activity will be allowed by them," Das was quoted as saying by ANI.

Ahead of the bilateral meeting, Dr Mohammad Faisal, Spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan said,''Pakistan is fully committed & cooperating to operationalize Kartarpur Corridor. More than 70% of Gurdwara's construction work is completed. We hope to have productive discussion today.''

It may be recalled that the second round of talks was originally expected to happen on April 2 but India had postponed the talks as Pakistan had appointed Khalistani elements on a committee associated with the corridor.

"Issues pertaining to the modalities of the corridor, who can use the corridor and its facilities, how can the pilgrims move across with regards to documents required for the travel, how many pilgrims can travel will be on the agenda during the meeting," sources told PTI.

The meeting will take place on the Pakistani side, they added. They also added that a "hi-tech and robust security system" will be in place when the corridor become operational. "Security is paramount and non-negotiable," they said.

They also added that a "hi-tech and robust security system" will be in place when the corridor become operational.

India is constructing a bridge at the Zero Point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of the pilgrims and address concerns regarding flooding.

The bridge is over a creek, of which the majority part falls in Pakistan. Pakistan said it would build a mud-filled embankment, a move which would not only lead to flooding in areas on the Indian side but also pose a threat to the structure of the bridge, the sources added. The creek floods during the monsoon when the Ravi river swells.

Another proposal put forth by Pakistan was to build a causeway, the sources said, adding that it was unacceptable to India as it would not provide an all-weather road. They said the construction work at the site of passenger terminal complex at Dera Baba Nanak in India is on full swing.

The work has been planned to be completed by October 31 before the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.

More than 250 labourers and 30 engineers are working at the site in three shifts, they said. The terminal is being built on around 15 acres of land with comprehensive facilities to cater to approximately 5,000 pilgrims daily, the sources said.

The complex will have the robust security systems with CCTV surveillance and other advance security systems and adequate parking space for 10 buses, 250 cars, and 250 two- wheelers. The area will be developed with amalgamation of rich Indian culture and state-of-the-art infrastructure with eye- soothing landscaping. More than Rs 500 crore will been spent for the development of this complex.

"On special days, we are expecting 10,000 pilgrims a day," one of the sources said. The passenger terminal building is being constructed by the Land Ports Authority of India. The work for it was awarded to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group on May 29.

The land acquisition process has been completed with the support of the Punjab government and the project is scheduled to be completed by October 31. The total cost of the project is Rs 177.5 crore.

In November 2018, Pakistan agreed to set up the border-crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district. Two days later, the Pakistani prime minister laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, around 125 km from Lahore.

OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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