Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 21
The number of pilgrims using the Kartarpur corridor is increasing in the last few days, especially over the weekends, said the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday in response to reports of a dip in the number of pilgrims ever since it was opened on November 9.
The MEA also denied there was any move to change the formalities for facilitating the pilgrimage by pointing out that such procedures are part of a bilateral agreement with Pakistan which has been finalised after discussions between officials of both countries.
“Any change can be undertaken only with the consent of both parties formally and not through a tweet or a statement. A regular review is taken on our side by the Empowered Committee chaired at the level of Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs,’’ said the MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar at a news briefing here today.
The MEA has made efforts to ease the issuance of passports. There are now three passport offices, five passport seva-kendras, six post office passport seva-kendras (POPSK) in Punjab. Besides new POPSKs are being opened, including at Dera Baba Nanak. Six passport camps have been organised in Punjab. “Today, obtaining passport is not difficult and we are facilitating it as requirement of passport is one of the conditions,’’ added Kumar.
“The other issue that we have been taking up with Pakistan since many days is that of the $ 20 fee levied on each pilgrim for each visit, be waived off. Pakistan has not agreed to do away with it so far. We are still requesting the Pakistani side if they remove it the restrictions which the pilgrims are facing will be eased,” he observed.
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