Chandigarh, Oct 1 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked the Central government to cut down the 30-day notice period for pilgrims to apply online for visiting the historic Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan during the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
He was chairing a high-level review meeting to assess the progress of the corridor project with a team of officers from the Centre.
Singh also asked the central team to examine the feasibility of issuing e-permits to devotees and setting up a dedicated passport centre at Dera Baba Nanak to facilitate the lakhs of pilgrims expected to apply for the Kartarpur pilgrimage.
Such a centre 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 $20 visiting fee on the pilgrims.
The Chief Minister asked the Regional Passport Officer in 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 the devotees in filing online.
To further facilitate the pilgrims, the Chief Minister 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 Chief Minister was apprised that the central team was closely monitoring its progress and the project was likely to be completed by October 31.
The Chief Minister also reviewed the progress of the dedicated service road being constructed to connect with the international boundary during the current year.
The project would be completed by October 15, the meeting was informed.
Singh urged the Central team to ensure that the Civil Aviation Department and Railways complete the facelift of the Amritsar airport and the city railway station, respectively, at the earliest.
Responding to Singh’s query on the number of pilgrims to be allowed daily, Joint Secretary with the 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.