Officials from India and Pakistan held another meeting Monday on the Indo-Pak border at Dera Baba Nanak to discuss the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor. It was fourth meeting since February this year on the Zero Line and first after results of the 2019 general elections were declared. Pakistan officials, according to sources, declined India’s demand of constructing a bridge over Ravi’s floodplain.
During the last meeting on April 16, India had asked Pakistan to construct a bridge between its ‘Dhusi Dam’ and their defence lane so as to avoid disturbing the floodplain due to the construction of Kartarpur Corridor.
“Pakistan has told us that they would make a causeway instead of a bridge. We have already decided that we will make a bridge in our boundary but Pakistan seems not interested in constructing the bridge in their area. It may lead to flood in the Ravi during the monsoon season. It will also affect the movement of devotees at that time when water will be high in the river,” said an Indian official, who did not wish to be named.
The meeting only lasted for an hour. Previous meetings had gone on for three to five hours.
An Indian official said, “This time, Pakistani officials were not interested in talking instead they gave a negative reply to our demand of a bridge. Pakistani officials must have been told to keep the meeting short.”
Officials of the National Highway Authority of India, the Land Port Authority of India, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sewer and Drainage Department Chief Engineer of the Punjab government were present at the meeting.
In the last meeting, Chief Engineer, Drainage Department, Jasbir Singh, had tabled concerns over possible effect on the flow of flood water of Ravi river after construction of the Corridor.
India has constructed flood control dam called Dhusi to stop the river water from entering Dera Baba Nanak town. This Dhusi is around 100 mt from Zero Line and the binoculars to watch Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan are also installed on this Dhusi.
A few years back, Pakistan had constructed similar dam almost parallel to Indian Dhusi, but for defence purpose and both dams are separated by around 300 mt with Zero Line in between.
An official told The Indian Express, “Pakistan has been constructing a bridge over the main Ravi river. However, they have been planning to construct a road between the two dams on both sides of the 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 avoid affecting the flood area for Ravi. We had asked Pakistan to construct a bridge on their side too, so that both bridges can meet at the Zero Line. It will allow the water to flow under these bridges during the monsoon and rainy days. Bridge over this area will not affect the flow of flood water. In case only a road is constructed in this area between the two dams then it will be an obstruction to the water.”
Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
Last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.