New Delhi: At a time when the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the much-talked-about Kartarpur Corridor will be completed on time, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday said one agreement with regard to the service charges on Indian pilgrims has not been finalised with Pakistan yet.
While addressing a press conference, Raveesh Kumar said that after many rounds of talks with Pakistan, the country has reached an agreement on all issues except the service fee.
“After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we’ve reached an agreement on all issues, except service fee,” Kumar added.
Kumar further stated that Pakistan insists on levying a fee of $20 (nearly Rs 1,420) on all pilgrims. “We’ve urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees and also because this is a P2P initiative. We hope that the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event,” he added.
The development comes a day after reports surfaced that Indian pilgrims will have to pay a service fee of Rs 1,400 ($20) for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor as Pakistan has refused to waive the fee.
Pakistan has handed over to India the final draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor due to be inaugurated on November 8 — a day ahead of the 550th Prakash Purb celebration of Guru Nanak dev when the corridor will be thrown open.
While Pakistan has agreed to India’s demand of letting the corridor being open to all of the followers of Baba Guru Nanak and not limiting it to Sikhs only, the draft agreement also mentioned that the fee could not be waived because of the operational costs of the corridor.
On Wednesday, Ministry of Home Affairs Additional Secretary Govind Mohan who visited the site in Gurdaspur said the Kartarpur corridor will be completed on time, i.e. October 31.
“The work has been completed for about 75 per cent so far. The work is underway and is in good speed. The whole building will be completed and handed over to the government by 31st October. We also have communication on both sides and the work is in progress,” Mohan told ANI.
He further said that currently there is a parking facility for around 200 cars but it is being expanded for at least 1000 cars.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will inaugurate the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor, on November 8, had in an election rally in Maharashtra said he is happy that the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor project is about to be completed.
He also said with this the country is able to fix the political and strategic failure with the neighbouring country to some extent which happened seven decades ago.
The Kartarpur Corridor connects the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan. It will be inaugurated on November 8.
The registration for the devotees will start from October 20 which will facilitate the visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.