Kartarpur Corridor: Reached agreement on all issues, except service fee, says MEA
New Delhi, Oct 17: With much-anticipated Kartarpur Corridor project likely to be completed by the end of October, India on Thursday said that Pakistan's proposal of charging USD 20 (around Rs 1420) fee per pilgrim remains the bone of contention.
India had asked for the fee to be waived even earlier, but Pakistan maintains that the fee could not be waived as it is needed to meet the operational costs of the corridor.
Pakistan had last week handed over to India its final draft agreement for the Kartarpur Corridor. The draft agreement was handed over to the Indian high commission in Islamabad last Friday.
"After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we have reached an agreement on all issues, except Service Fee," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday.
Construction of the 4.2 km-long corridor is likely to be completed by 31 October. Pakistan is building the corridor from the border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent last 18 years of his life. The other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
Earlier in October, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal criticised Pakistan's insistence to charge a service fee of USD 20 from pilgrims to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara and compared it with ''jaziya''.
"Pakistan insists on levying a fee of USD 20 on all pilgrims. We have urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees,and also because this is a P2P initiative. We hope that the Agreement can be concluded & signed in time for the great event," MEA said.
The proposed corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.