India on Thursday said it has urged Pakistan not to levy $20 on pilgrims using the Kartarpur corridor and hoped the agreement on the cross-border corridor could be inked in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.
In response to queries on whether the agreement on Kartarpur Sahib corridor has not yet been finalised due to the Pakistani insistence on a service fee to be charged from all devotees who want to visit Kartarpur Sahib, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is an important people-to-people initiative taken by India to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji.”
“After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we have reached an agreement on all other issues, except the matter of service fee. Pakistan insists on levying a fee of USD 20 (about Rs 1,420) from all pilgrims. We have urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees, and also because this is a people-to-people initiative. We hope that the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event.”
The development comes as India is pushing ahead with construction of the 4.2 km-long corridor which will be completed by October 31, a week before the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, located 4.5 kms from the border near Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab, is highly revered among Sikhs as it was the place where Guru Nanak spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.