Pak unwilling to build bridge on Kartarpur zero line, say officials
Pakistan is unwilling to construct a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur Corridor to connect to the Indian side, senior officials aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity on Saturday.
The proposed corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India’s Gurdaspur district. It is scheduled to be thrown open in November for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, which thousands of devotees are expected to attend.
The Kartarpur corridor crosses the flood plains of the river Ravi and is prone to flooding. India is constructing a bridge over the zero line — the line that demarcates the territory between two countries — to connect to the road on the other side. Pakistan, however, is constructing just a causeway.
“The causeway can get flooded. Importantly, it will act as a barrier directing more flood water towards India,” a senior official associated with the negotiations said. “Flooding and water accumulation can reduce access to the shrine to a seasonal event as against India’s plan to make it a round-the-year event.”
However, the construction of the four-lane highway from Gurdaspur to the border and a terminal building for devotees by India is expected to be completed in three months, much ahead of the November celebrations. “We are on track; the entire facility will be up and functioning,” a second senior official who did not want to be named said.
The Indian and Pakistani delegations have met four times to sort out differences. Pakistan is yet to clarify whether it will accede to India’s request for a bridge connecting the two sides.
“For this season, India has provided for an alternate alignment – a feeder road – joining up with the road in Pakistan,” a third senior official said.
Another unresolved issue is how often devotees will be allowed to visit the shrine. Pakistan has proposed that visits be allowed only on designated days while India wants it to be a daily affair. There is also no consensus on the number of devotees who will be allowed to visit the shrine. India has proposed a maximum of 5,000 visitors daily. Pakistan, however, says it can accommodate only 700 visitors daily.
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