India and Pakistan on Tuesday held a meeting on the technical aspects of the proposed Kartarpur corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, sources said.
At the nearly four-hour-long meeting, which took place in makeshift tents at “zero point” of the proposed corridor, experts and technicians from the two countries discussed “timing for completion of bridge, alignment of roads and engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points”, sources said.
At the meeting, Jasbir Singh, chief engineer of the drainage department, tabled India’s concerns over possible effects on flow of flood water of the Ravi river after construction of the corridor, sources said.
India has constructed a flood control dam called Dhusi to stop the river water from entering Dera Baba Nanak town. This dam is around 100 metres from zero line.
An official told The Indian Express, “Pakistan has been constructing a bridge over the main Ravi river. However, they have been planning to construct the road between the two dams on both sides of zero line. The area between both dams is also flood water area for Ravi. India had already decided that it would construct a bridge up to zero line to not affect the flood area for Ravi. We have asked Pakistan to construct bridge on their side so that both bridges can meet at the zero line. It will allow the water to flow under these bridges during monsoon and rainy days. A bridge over this area will not affect the flow of flood water. In case only road is constructed in this area between two dams, then it will be an obstruction to the water.”
“We have provided our feedback to Pakistan and are hopeful that Pakistan will consider our recommendations,” said another Indian official.
Sources said that India proposed the meeting to address outstanding technical issues for the corridor and Pakistan agreed. They said that implementation of the project is progressing with “speed”. Various issues were discussed for speedy completion of the proposed project, it is learnt.
The Pakistani team included 8-10 delegates from the country’s foreign ministry, and religion and federal works departments, while the 12-member Indian team comprised officials from the Land Ports Authority of India, National Highways Authority of India, centre public works department, and the Border Security Force.
Officials of National Highway Authority of India, Land Port Authority of India and Drainage Department Punjab attended the meeting.
In November 2018, India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
Kartarpur is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi, about 4 km from the Dera Baba Nanak.
The first meeting to finalise the modalities for the corridor took place on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border on March 14. Tuesday was the second such meeting at Dera Baba Nanak to discuss the technical aspects of the Kartarpur corridor.
Technical experts of the two countries met on March 19 during which alignment, coordinates and several other engineering aspects of the proposed corridor were discussed.
However, on March 29, India conveyed strong concerns to Pakistan over the presence of a leading Khalistani separatist in a committee appointed by Islamabad on the project.
India also postponed a previously agreed meeting on the project which was to be held on April 2 in Wagah on the Pakistani side.
India sought response from Pakistan on presence of Khalistani separatist Gopal Chawla in the Kartarpur committee. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore. WITH PTI