Kartarpur pilgrims’ wait likely to stretch on - ECAS Punjab

Kartarpur pilgrims’ wait likely to stretch on

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Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 8

Though Pakistan has decided to start construction of a 300-metre bridge, which will join the 100-metre overpass on the Indian side, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is unlikely to give its nod to reopen the Kartarpur corridor in near future.

Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) claimed it would not be feasible to commence activities "at least not till the middle of next year". The passage was closed on March 16 following the Covid-19 outbreak.

A four-member Pakistani team had met Indian officials at the Zero Line last week to finalise the coordinates of both the bridges. The corridor, which is a 4.6-km thoroughfare stretching from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur in Narowal district of Pakistan, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9 last year. The corridor facilitated the movement of pilgrims who wanted to pay obeisance at the Kartarpur shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent final years of his life.

Sources said the Covid-19 pandemic had come as a blessing in disguise for the Indian authorities.

"There were a lot of security concerns that Pakistani army and Inter-Services Intelligence would use the passage to execute their nefarious designs. Even Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta had expressed apprehensions. The MHA wanted a reason to shut down the operations and the pandemic came as a convenient excuse," said a senior official. Officials said since the corridor also catered to devotees from outside Punjab, it would not be feasible to open it till rail and air services got back to normal.

Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said he would urge the CM to talk to the MHA to find a way forward.

from The Tribune https://ift.tt/35iYNxd

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