Pilgrims’ Safety, Infrastructure To Top India-Pak Kartarpur Talks Today


The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur

New Delhi:

Indian and Pakistani officials will meet today to iron out issues in the second round of talks over the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims. The meeting comes a day after Pakistan removed pro-Khalistan leader Gopal Singh Chawla from its committee that is involved in talks with India.

The Indian delegation for the talks today will be led by the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) Ministry of Home Affairs, Anil Malik, while Mohammed Faisal, Director General, South Asia, at the Pakistan Foreign Ministry will represent Islamabad.

India is expected to raise several issues including infrastructure and safety of the pilgrims in this meeting, scheduled at 9:30 am at Wagah.

India is constructing a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur Corridor to provide all-weather connectivity.

Pakistan, however, has been insisting on constructing a causeway, which India believes, would act as a barrier, directing more flood water towards India, reports have said.

"Flooding of the area is our prime concern. We have urged Pakistan to build a bridge – like we are building – on their side too as it would help to provide safe movement of the pilgrims and prevent flooding of Indian areas during monsoon when the Ravi river overflows," a senior Home Ministry official said on Friday, requesting not to be named.

"Three rounds of technical level discussions have been held with the Pakistan side and they have been asked not to create structures that would, in any manner, endanger life and property on the Indian side due to flooding," the Home Ministry official said.

The Kartarpur corridor will be vulnerable to flooding as it is being built near the flood plains of the Ravi river. In 2013, when the area was flooded, it had caused great damage to people living in Punjab's Gurdaspur area.

"This is the first monsoon in which we will see what kind of impact there would be due to the construction," the official said.

According to him, India would be able to complete work on its side by October 31. "Highway work would be completed by September 30 and site work by October 31," he said.

Once built, the corridor will connect the Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims. The pilgrims will require just a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, an important Sikh shrine established in 1522 by the faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The first level of talks were held on March 14 and second round, which were to take place on April 2, were called off pending clarifications by Islamabad on New Delhi's security concerns. In May, India had raised concerns that Pakistan is promoting the interest of Khalistani groups under the garb of the Kartarpur corridor.

Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24×7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.

Source Article