Kartarpur Corridor: Is $20 Justified?

On November 28, 2018, Prime Minister of Pakistan HE Imran Khan announced opening of long demanded corridor between Pakistan and India to allow Sikhs from India (Including Naam Levaks of Guru Nanak) to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, in Pakistan via Specially created Corridor.

After an year passed and Pakistan and India finalized the agreement, Pakistan imposed $20 service fee on people visiting through this corridor. This created a backlash in India, people commenting that there shouldn’t be any fees on entering Gurdwara. So Is Pakistan really charging $20 on entering Gurdwara? Lets find out.

First of all, there is lot of misconception and misrepresentation of facts that are circulating in Indian Media. One of these includes that Pakistan is imposing $20 fees on entering Gurdwara which has no truthfulness in it.

To understand this, First we need to understand the technicalities of this corridor. Kartarpur Corridor and Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara are separate things. Pakistan has imposed fees on Kartarpur Corridor but not on Kartpur Sahib Gurdwara. Yes, you need to understand this technicality that both of these are two different things.

Understanding Kartarpur Corridor:

Kartarpur Corridor is a passage between India and Pakistan, This passage includes construction of Roads from Border, 1km Long Bridge on River Ravi, Immigration Terminal, Bus Service from Border to Kartarpur Gurdwara, Border Security Forces check posts, Fencing surrounding areas and much more. Apart Pakistan has also expanded Gurdwara making it largest Gurdwara in the world in term of area of about 104 acres, however we exclude this expansion from infrastructure of corridor as gurdwara is a religious place.

Cost of corridor apart from Gurdwara Expansion.

Cost of corridor construction hasn’t been released by Pakistani authorities but according to report published by Surinder Singh and the Institute in 2010, Pakistan would spend $14.8 million building this corridor. Considering this we can assume that current cost would have been much higher as this project was completed 9 years later of that study and with in record time of just 9 months while international firms quoted 2-3 years time frame to complete this project.

Apart from construction cost, Pakistan will also bear operational cost of corridor that includes, wages of employees, maintenance cost, security cost on daily basis.

Indian citizens will be the only users of this corridor. No Pakistani citizen will use this corridor as they cannot go to India via this corridor, So it make no sense to use money of Pakistani Tax Payers to finance a facility for Indian Citizens only.

This is the main reason that this facility cannot be provided for free and Pakistan has imposed $20 fees on using Kartarpur Corridor

Can Indian citizens visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib without $20 fees?

Answer is yes, Indian citizen don’t need to pay any fees on entering any Gurdwara in Pakistan, there is no admission fees. They can enter and exist Gurdwara Complex as many time as they like. $20 fees will only be charged at the Kartar Border when Indian Citizens will be entering Pakistan to use Visa-Free corridor.

Indian Citizens can even avoid paying this $20 fees if they don’t use Corridor Facility and get proper visa to enter Pakistan from Wahgah/Attari and then visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib without paying $20 fees.

In this way they will need to bear the hassle of applying visa at Pakistan Embassy in India. Then bear the visa and travel cost in Pakistan. All these costs will become more than $20 eventually.

So considering these points we can say that $20 as fees to enter Pakistan and use Visa-Free corridor can be justified as this fees is only one-third of total operational cost of this corridor.

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