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Registration for Sikh Pilgrims for Kartarpur Corridor to Begin on Oct 20; India-Pak to Sign Agreement Soon

A visit to ground zero by CNN-News18 revealed that the main passenger terminal building, where immigration officers will scan the passports of pilgrims, is far from complete. The temporary road, which will lead to the Zero Point on the International Border (IB), is also under construction.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:October 16, 2019, 6:05 PM IST
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Registration for Sikh Pilgrims for Kartarpur Corridor to Begin on Oct 20; India-Pak to Sign Agreement Soon
Workers at the site of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Indian side.

New Delhi: The registration of Sikh pilgrims for using the much-awaited Kartarpur Sahib corridor will begin in four days.

Govind Mohan, chairperson of the Land Ports Authority of India, said that the online system of registration will open on October 20.

"Before the 20th, we are expecting the signing of the final Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian and Pakistan. From October 20, pilgrims can register on the online portal," said Mohan, who is also the additional secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the Indian side of the Kartarpur corridor on November 8 and the construction work would be completed by October 31. The 4.2 km-long corridor is to be opened on the occasion of the 550th Prakash Purb celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev on November 9.

Pakistan will allow 5,000 pilgrims daily on the corridor that will link Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab state to Darbar Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan’s Kartarpur.

Punjab Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had earlier said devotees would have to apply 30 days in advance to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which is highly revered by the Sikhs as Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life there and it is his final resting place.

A visit to ground zero by CNN-News18 revealed that the Land Port Authority of India and the National Highways Authority of India are racing against time to complete work as per schedule.

The main passenger terminal building, where immigration officers will scan the passports of pilgrims, is far from complete. The temporary road, which will lead to the Zero Point on the International Border (IB), is also under construction.

When asked how he is confident of the opening of the corridor in the absence of fully-constructed facilities, Mohan said, "Work is not happening in a linear manner. I am confident that by October 31, the terminal building will be ready to receive the first set of 5,000 pilgrims."

Shailendra Ajri, Vice President (Operations) of Shaponji pallonji, the firm tasked with completing the construction, also expressed confidence. "When we began on June 4, there were only green fields here. In four months, we have completed 80% of the construction. In the next fortnight, we will finish the remaining work," he said.

Officials at the Kartarpur corridor site said 1,832 workers are working in three shifts to race against the deadline and finish the work.

The first 'Jatha' of Sikh Pilgrims, led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, is expected to visit Kartarpur Saheb on November 9.

Last week, Pakistan handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad the final draft agreement pertaining to the corridor. India had asked for the service fee of $20 (approximately Rs 1,400) for Indian pilgrims to be waived, but Pakistan says that the amount is needed to meet operational costs for the corridor. Pakistan has agreed to the demand that people of all faiths, and not just Sikhs, be allowed to visit the shrine. There would be no stamping on the passport but only a permit would be issued.

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had tweeted on Saturday that Modi will inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor on November 8. The delegation inspected undergoing projects at the international border after which they held a meeting with officers at the Integrated Check Post, a state government statement said.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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