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Punjab CM Amarinder reviews work on Kartarpur corridor

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 1, 2019  | 22:32 IST

Chandigarh, Oct 1 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked the Centre to cut down the 30-day notice period for devotees to apply online for visiting the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara during the 550th 'Prakash Purb' celebrations. He was chairing a review meeting to assess the progress of the corridor project with a team of officers from the Centre, an official statement said. Singh also asked the central team to examine the feasibility of issuing e-permits to devotees and setting up a dedicated Passport Sewa Kendra at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to facilitate the lakhs of pilgrims expected to apply for visiting Kartarpur in Pakistan. "Such a kendra would facilitate the lakhs of devotees likely to come from far-flung and rural areas," he said, while reiterating his request to the Centre to prevail upon Pakistan to remove the USD 20 visiting fee on the pilgrims. The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib. Meanwhile, the chief minister asked the RPO Chandigarh to ensure a fast-track and accessible mechanism to deliver passport services to pilgrims on top priority. He also asked the department to immediately start organising passport camps across the state to help devotees. To further facilitate pilgrims, the CM asked the Centre to allow a minimum of Rs 10,000 in Indian currency per person. The Centre should ensure that enough money exchange booths are set up by Pakistan at the site, he said. Reviewing the construction of a bridge over the 'Budhi Raavi' channel and the four-lane highway, as well as the design of 'Darshan Sthal', the chief minister asked the central team to get these executed at the earliest. On the state-of-the-art passenger terminal building being constructed at a cost of Rs 177.50 crore, the CM was apprised that the central team was closely monitoring its progress and the project was likely to be completed by October 31. Amarinder Singh also reviewed the progress of the dedicated service road being temporarily constructed to connect with the international boundary during the current year. The project would be completed by October 15, the meeting was informed.  He also urged the central team to ensure that the Civil Aviation Department and the Railways complete the facelift of the Amritsar airport and the railway station respectively at the earliest. Responding to Amarinder's query on the number of pilgrims to be allowed daily, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, S C L Das said the central team had raised the issue with their Pakistan counterparts. Pakistan was so far willing to allow a maximum of 5,000 devotees daily, with the limit to be increased to 10,000 and more on special days, he said. Earlier, in his presentation, Commissioner, Bureau of Investigation, government of India, Rajeev Ranjan Verma said the online portal for pilgrims to apply for the visit would be launched soon, both in Gurmukhi and English. The meeting was also informed that the government of India had sanctioned Rs 15,78,09,000 for erecting robust policing and security infrastructure at Dera Baba Nanak. The infrastructure would include a police station, office space for police, besides dormitory accommodation for 150 police personnel, in addition to 50 residential flats. PTI CHS VSD IJT

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