Racing against time, workers are doing three shifts a day to complete the Indian part of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor that will enable pilgrims from here to visit the revered Sikh shrine in Pakistan.
Construction of around 4.2 km-long corridor is targeted to be completed by October 31, a week before the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The gurdwara is located in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, near Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. It is a highly revered Sikh shrine where Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
About 60 per cent work of the four-lane highway with service lanes on both sides has been completed, an official said.
The corridor is intended to enable 5,000 Indian pilgrims to pay their obeisance daily at the revered Sikh shrine
Project implementation is “progressing with speed”, the official said.
The entire corridor would cost approximately Rs 500 crore.
Sixty-two acres of land have been acquired in Punjab for the project at the rate of Rs 42 lakh per acre. Besides, civil works of Rs 90 crore are also under progress.
Fifty acres of additional land is also being acquired for the construction of an Integrated Check Post by the Land Port Authority of India.
“Of the eight culverts proposed on the corridor, seven have been completed,” he said.
Devotees, especially the Sikhs, have been demanding for over 70 years a visa-free “khule darshan” (free obeisance facility) at the gurdwara for all faiths, from India and overseas, all seven days a week.
The proposal to open the corridor, first mooted 20 years back, saw progress last year when Pakistan agreed to go ahead with it. Subsequently, foundation stones were laid for the project on Indian and Pakistan sides in November last year.
On the Indian side, the foundation stone was laid by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 26.
On the Pakistani side, the foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa on November 28.
The two countries have also held a series of discussions on modalities for operationalising the project. The last one was held on July 14, when agreement was reached on almost all issues.
For India, there is a concern over the possible flooding of the Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas on the Indian side as a result of earth-filled embankment road or a causeway that is proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side.
Officials said the Indian delegation, at the last meeting, shared detailed flood analysis with Pakistan to underscore these concerns. And Pakistan agreed to build a bridge at the earliest.
Keeping in view the heavy movement of pilgrims, all approach roads to Dera Baba Nanak from Batala, Fatehgarh Churian and Ramdas are also being upgraded, a senior state government official said.
According to him, three technical meetings between both the sides were held to streamline priorities over the corridor laying.