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Kartarpur Corridor talks on Sunday; Pak removes pro-Khalistan leader from panel

By Shreya
|

New Delhi, July 13: The second India-Pakistan talk on the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor will take place 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.

Representational Image

India will also raise its concerns over the security aspect, they added.

Conceding to India's demand, Pakistan has removed Gopal Singh Chawla, member of Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, from his post.

"The Federal Government (Federal Cabinet) has been pleased to re-constitute the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC)," Pakistan said in an official statement on Friday, thereby dropping Chawla's name from the panel.

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.

Explained: What is the Kartarpur Corridor Project

The sources said the work on a four-lane highway on the Indian side is in full swing.

The four-lane highway connecting the Zero Point of the Kartarpur Corridor up to National Highway-354 is being constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Pakistan is constructing a two-lane highway.

Officials said the work on the four-lane highway should be completed by September.

Disagreement over construction

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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