Tribune News Service
Dera Baba Nanak, November 15
There is growing belief that footfall at Kartarpur corridor can improve provided the governments of India and Pakistan amend the October 24 agreement. The terms make it clear that a passport is mandatory and that a service fee of $20 per devotee will be imposed by Pakistan.
Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said, “When the corridor is visa-free, where is the need for a passport? Both the governments should ensure that this requirement is done away with. Only then will the corridor pick up pace.”
The credit for the passage’s construction is shared by Govind Mohan and Col Raman Kumar, chairman and director (Technical), respectively, of the Land Ports Authority of India, NHAI officials, Dubai businessman SPS Oberoi, Jeetendra Singh, vice-president of Ceigall India Ltd, the firm tasked with the work of the corridor road, Gurdaspur DC Vipul Ujwal, Dera Baba Nanak SDM Gursimran Singh and Randhawa.
Oberoi, who is financing a 4-km-long water supply pipe stretching from the T-point till the ICP, apart from setting up a hospital near the corridor, said today’s decision of allowing a person a repeat entry after 15 days had the potential to rescue the project.
“Earlier, a devotee was allowed to go just once a year. Now, this cap has been done away with. I was a part of the first group that crossed over on November 9 and hence, I could not go again. Now, next week, I will lead a jatha which will be financed by me. I will now repeatedly lead groups to Kartarpur,” he said. Oberoi is also funding the visit of 1,100 pilgrims spread over the next one year.
Jeetendra said pilgrims, particularly those belonging to rural areas, were refusing to travel because they fear “they may not be allowed to come back by Pakistan Rangers”.
“I meet people at the site everyday who insist they will cross over only if the BSF accompanies them till Kartarpur gurdwara. They are not willing to be escorted by Pakistan Rangers,” he claimed.
Apart from the passport waiver, the consensus among these people, who played a pivotal role in the execution of the venture, is that the service fee of $20 too should be done away with. “The entry should be allowed on Aadhaar card. Awareness camps should be held in gurdwaras across Punjab informing people how to complete the online registration. Security concerns, too, should be addressed in these camps. Only then can things improve,” said Jeetendra.
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