NEW DELHI :
Fresh roadblocks threaten the Kartarpur Corridor project between India and Pakistan with the two countries still negotiating on the ongoing construction work that was set to be completed by 31 October.
While India is spending ₹500 crore on the corridor, the home and external affairs ministries are concerned over Pakistan’s tardy contribution toward the corridor’s infrastructure—a factor that may delay the project’s completion.
While India is making watertight security arrangements to safeguard the pilgrims and prevent any incidents of terror, it has raised red flags over Pakistan’s reluctance to build a “causeway" over a creek that connects the two countries, in order to avoid natural disasters.
A senior home ministry official said there is a stretch of water between the two countries that is prone to flooding. “India is building a bridge there to safeguard pilgrims because it is prone to flooding during the rains. Pakistan had said that they will seal the creek by creating an embankment—using mud and sand, but we are hopeful they will seal it with an elevated bridge as well because otherwise the floodwater will come into the Indian side," the official said, requesting anonymity.
As India and Pakistan are set to commence a second round of discussions on the Kartarpur Corridor on Sunday, India’s home ministry and the ministry of external affairs (MEA) stated that the Centre was hopeful of a fruitful round of talks to complete the work on time.
“We have high expectations from this meeting and look forward to commencing the pilgrimage by November and hope the other side will also match up," the foreign ministry said on Friday.
“On the bilateral front we reached out to Pakistan and they agreed. Discussions were first held on 14 March in Attari on our side and second round will be held on 14 July to take the first round forward," said a senior MEA official, seeking anonymity.
The home ministry said that 54 immigration counters were being set up in a ‘passenger building’, akin to an airport, with lounges having a capacity to host 5,000 pilgrims every day, or 10,000 on special days.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has undertaken road construction work along the corridor, with “60% of the work already completed on the Indian side", according to a senior NHAI official.