India not slow in completing Kartarpur corridor: MEA

New Delhi


Ahead of talks with Pakistan on the cross-border Kartarpur corridor, the government on Thursday sought to dismiss "misconceptions" that India has been slow in completing its side of the corridor that is set to be thrown open to Sikh pilgrims in November to mark the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India is fully committed to the project. "We want the project to be expeditiously completed. We are aware that it involves the sentiments of the people, the sentiments of the pilgrims who are to visit Kartarpur."

On the two important infrastructure projects being undertaken by India -- a state-of-the-art passenger terminal and a four-lane highway that will connect the Zero point of the Kartarpur corridor to the national highway, the spokesperson said: "They are ongoing and we are hopeful that work on these two projects will be completed in time - one by September 2019 and one by October 2019".

"So the reports which say that we are slow in terms of finishing our project... it is not the correct definition," the spokesperson added.

He said India has flagged some issues to Pakistan in the past as well -- not only infrastructure related but on other aspects. "Our desire to have talks basically conveys that whatever the differences are, I think we will have talks and will take up those matters with Pakistan when we meet them on July 14," he added.

The spokesperson's remarks come after a minister from India's Punjab alleged that India was lagging behind in construction of the corridor.

The corridor will allow pilgrims to travel from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev.

The Kartarpur gurdwara is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi, about 4 km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur.

Pakistan will build the corridor up to the Indian border from the gurdwara in Kartarpur.

Issues related to providing facilities for the pilgrims, including allowing larger number of pilgrims from India to move across the corridor and other modalities for the Kartarpur corridor would be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of officials from both sides on July 14 at Wagah. IANS