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At Sunday's Meeting on Kartarpur Corridor, India Will Ask Pakistan to Construct All-weather Road

While India is building a bridge to help pilgrims cross the flood-prone Ravi creek near Baba Dera Nanak in Punjab, Pakistan authorities insist they can only build a causeway on their side as there isn’t enough time to build a bridge.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:July 12, 2019, 6:12 PM IST
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At Sunday's Meeting on Kartarpur Corridor, India Will Ask Pakistan to Construct All-weather Road
The under-construction Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side.
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New Delhi: India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet for a second time on July 14 to resolve the pending issues related to the Kartarpur corridor, but it seems there is literally no bridge between the two sides where ideas are concerned.

While India is building a bridge to help pilgrims cross the flood-prone Ravi creek near Baba Dera Nanak in Punjab, Pakistan authorities insist they can only build a causeway on their side as there isn’t enough time to build a bridge.

“This is a flood-prone area. If they build a causeway, it will not allow pilgrim movement during the monsoon. We want an all-weather road,” said an official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) who is in charge of the road construction.

CNN-News18 has seen drone images clicked from the Indian side which show that while Delhi is building a four-lane elevated structure across the International Border until the zero point, Pakistan so far has only constructed what appears to be a two-lane road with no bridge across the Ravi creek.

"The slope in this area is towards India; if Pakistan creates a mud or concrete embankment, the entire Indian side will be flooded during the monsoon,” explained an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), explaining India’s insistence upon the bridge.

India, however, has refuted suggestions that the bridge vs causeway divide could derail the Kartarpur corridor project. "There is no question of calling off the project. India is committed to taking pilgrims in November 2019,” said an official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Government sources indicated that as a temporary measure, India might open service roads from Dera Baba Nanak to the zero point if Pakistan refuses to construct a bridge by November.

“In November, there is no monsoon. So, as a temporary measure, we can think of a ground-level service road, but we will insist that Pakistan ultimately agrees to build a bridge,” said an NHAI official.

The official said that 60% of the road construction work on the Indian side has been completed and the passenger terminal building construction is also on course. India hopes to complete the entire project by October.

Pakistan has said that 80% of their construction is already done. India, however, has expressed apprehension about the number of pilgrims that Pakistani arrangements will be able to handle.

India is likely to reiterate at the July 14 meeting that 5,000 of its pilgrims be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib on normal days and 10,000 on special days. Pakistan has proposed only 750 pilgrims per day. India wants visa-free access while Pakistan has sought strict documentation and scrutiny before allowing pilgrims.

India had cancelled its last proposed meeting, citing concerns about Khalistani terrorists like Gopal Chawla. Government sources said that in the upcoming meeting, India will raise concerns about steps being taken by Pakistan to check Khalistani secessionists who want to misuse the Kartarpur corridor to radicalise pilgrims crossing over.

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