The Election Commission has permitted the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue orders for the construction of a 4.25 km four-lane road linked to the Kartarpur Corridor. The poll panel had earlier allowed only the issuance of tender and had asked the MHA to hold on to construction work till the end of the Lok Sabha polls. However, the MHA is learnt to have urged the EC to reconsider its stand under the Model Code of Conduct since the matter involves diplomatic sensitivies with the deadline for the project being September 2019.
Both sides were expected to meet early this month but India cancelled the talks with Pakistan over the latter forming a committee which included Khalistani sympathisers like Gopal Chawla.
The EC’s approval, officials said, is related to the project undertaken by the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI). India began the construction of a 4.25 km four-lane road along the international border leading to Dera Baba Nanak on April 6, and the construction firm intends to complete this by September 2019.
The Centre has identified 50 acres of land for construction of the Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) complex and this will be developed in two phases, according to MHA officials. A fully air-conditioned building sprawling over nearly 21,650 sq metres is proposed to be set up in the first phase.
The design of the complex has been inspired by the symbol ‘Khanda’ which represents values of oneness and humanity. The disabled-friendly building will display murals and photographs based on Indian cultural values and will have adequate immigration and customs clearance facilities to facilitate the smooth movement of approximately 5,000 pilgrims each day. A 300-ft National Flag will also be erected at the International Border.
However, Islamabad has toughened its stand on visa-free entry to pilgrims.