NEW DELHI: With India and Pakistan set to commence second high-level discussion on the Kartarpur Corridor on Sunday, the Centre on Friday said it was hopeful of a fruitful round of talks.
Officials in the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs said 60 per cent of work on the corridor was done and it would be completely ready by October 31, much before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
At the talks, the Indian delegation will reiterate the same set of concerns as the key issue remains unresolved — the construction of a causeway by Pakistan, officials said. While India is building a bridge to help the pilgrims cross the flood-prone Ravi creek near Baba Dera Nanak in Punjab, the Pakistan authorities insist they can only build a causeway on their side as there isn’t enough time to build a bridge.
Sources said the Indian delegation is likely to suggest the use of ‘service road’ by pilgrims till the time the bridge is not built by Pakistan.
Drone images from India show there is a four-lane elevated structure across the International Border until the zero point, but Pakistan has so far only constructed what appears to be a two-lane road with no bridge across the Ravi creek.
“The government is keen that the Kartarpur corridor is completed on both the sides by the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji. India is looking forward to it with high expectation,” said a senior government functionary.
The movement of the Kartarpur corridor pilgrims is expected to be discussed in the meeting. Discussions on permits or visa-free access to all the pilgrims, fees and journey time of the pilgrims are also expected.
“India is creating an all-weather facility to cater to 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and 5,000 pilgrims daily,” said a source. However, Pakistan wants to limit the number of pilgrims to 750 a day. Sources have said the Indian side will also reiterate their concern regarding Khalistani terrorists.
Flooding worry: India pushes for Bridge
“This is a flood-prone area. If they build a causeway, it will not allow pilgrim movement during the monsoon. We want an all-weather road and don’t want our pilgrims to face any inconvenience. Causeways are not considered good engineering. India has been covering our side of 68-km bund while the Pakistani side has a vast 250-km bund. Flooding in monsoon is a concern,” said an official.
A senior MHA official explained the slope in this area is towards India and if Pakistan creates a mud or concrete embankment, the entire Indian side will be flooded during the monsoon.