India, Pak hold meeting on Kartarpur corridor
Several technical issues, including the level and alignment of roads, construction of a bridge and various aspects of the proposed crossing points, were discussed during the nearly two-hour meeting.Updated: Aug 31, 2019 00:22 IST
Indian and Pakistani officials met on the international border on Friday to discuss technical modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor, the first such meeting since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status triggered tensions between the two countries.
The meeting at zero point, where the Indian and Pakistani sides of the proposed corridor converge, was attended 15 officials from each side, Indian officials said. Several technical issues, including the level and alignment of roads, construction of a bridge and various aspects of the proposed crossing points, were discussed during the nearly two-hour meeting, they said.
The India side asked the Pakistani officials to speed up work on a 300-metre bridge on a creek of the Ravi river. Though Pakistan had agreed in principle to India’s suggestion about building the bridge during a meeting held on July 14, Pakistani officials expressed their inability to complete the bridge by the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November, said an Indian official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Pakistani side said a service road would be built as a temporary passage for Indian pilgrims. The alignment of this temporary passage was discussed as India too will have to build a service lane on its side. India has completed 70% of the work on a 100-metre bridge on its side, the official added.
The date of opening the corridor and medical facilities for pilgrims were also discussed, officials said.
Since the beginning of this year, technical experts of the two sides have held several meetings to discuss coordinates and engineering aspects of the corridor. Official delegations of the two sides also held a meeting on the Pakistani side of the Attari-Wagah border in July to discuss modalities for the corridor.
Friday’s meeting was the first one after India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two union territories. Despite the subsequent tensions, the two countries have said they are committed to completing the corridor between Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side and Darbar Sahib gurdwara on the Pakistani side in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit the Kartarpur gurdwara, built at the spot where the founder of the Sikh faith spent his final years.
Among the Indian officials who attended the meeting were HK Wadhwa and Alok Kumar from the union home ministry, Yash Pal Singh Jadon, project director from the National Highways Authority of India, Akhil Saxena, member (planning and development) of the Land Ports Authority of India, Jeetendra Singh, vice president of Ceigall India construction company and Mahipal Yadav, inspector general of the Border Security Force (Punjab Frontier).
The Indian officials said this might be the last meeting of technical experts before the opening of the corridor in November. India has proposed dates in early September for another meeting of official delegations but Pakistan is yet to respond.
First Published: Aug 30, 2019 23:41 IST