New Delhi: After a meeting between the two sides, Pakistan on Sunday agreed in-principle to India's demand for the construction of a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur corridor to tackle the threat of the possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak.
"Pakistan side agreed, in principle, to build a bridge at the earliest," read a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) following the second round of Kartarupur Corridor talks.
"India offered to make interim arrangements for making the corridor operational in November 2019, given the historic importance of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji," the statement added.
While India has already been building a bridge on its side to provide all-weather connectivity for the Kartarpur corridor, it has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on their side as it would provide safe and secure movement of the pilgrims while also addressing concerns over flooding of Dera Baba Nanak.
During the talks, the Indian side shared concerns over individuals or organisations "based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims."
A dossier was also handed over to Pakistani officials over the matter.
"The Indian delegation has also sought consular presence in Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara to be able to provide assistance to the pilgrims if required," the statement added.
The Pakistani officials assured their Indian counterparts that no anti-India activity would be allowed, it read.
The Kartarpur route along the India-Pakistan border is three kilometres away from Gurdaspur in Punjab. Once opened, it would allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak Dev passed away in 1539.
Today's meeting also reviewed the progress reached in the three rounds of technical meeting that were held in March, April and May 2019. The two sides endorsed the crossing point or the 'zero point' coordinates that were agreed to at the technical level.
"Progress was made in finalising the draft Agreement with regard to the modalities. It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport holders and OCI card holders seven days a week," the statement said.
"Throughout the year, 5000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot," it added.
India noted that significant progress has been made to build a state of art infrastructure, including passenger terminal on the Indian side that can handle over 15,000 pilgrims in a day.
This is targeted to be completed by October 31, 2019, the Ministry said in the statement.
The work on the four-lane highway to the crossing point at the International Boundary is progressing satisfactorily and is on schedule. It will be completed by end September 2019, it added.
"The technical teams would meet again to ensure seamless connectivity for the Kartarpur corridor is operational in time so that the pilgrimage can begin in November 2019," the statement read....