Kartarpur corridor work hits a roadblock; drivers go on strike over payment delay

Arjun Sharma | Aug 29, 2019 | 3 min read


As political salvos are being fired by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress over Kartarpur corridor that will connect the Sikh shrine in Pakistan with the Indian side in Gurdaspur, work on the project has hit a roadblock.

After the transport contractor didn’t reportedly receive payment from the company that is building the corridor, they stopped working. As a result, even the truck and crane drivers have not been paid by the transport contractor for one and a half months, according to the drivers. 

Ceigall India Limited, a private construction company, was engaged by the National Highway Authority of India to complete a four-lane 4.2-kilometre road upto the International Border to be used by the pilgrims to reach Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, Pakistan. Work on the corridor started in April.

The local administration is on its toes as the work on the corridor has to be completed by October 31, before the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, begins.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Dera Baba Nanak, where the corridor is being built, Gursimran Singh Dhillon told 101Reporters that the local administration is in talks with the Ceigall India Limited about the dispute over payment with the transport contractors owing to which the work has been suspended.

“We have been told that some of the pending payments have been cleared, but some other bills have also been raised by the transport contractor. We are taking continuous follow-ups of the issue and the work on the road will start soon,” informed Dhillon.

Meetings with state and central agencies involved in the project take place on regular intervals and 60% of the work on the corridor has been completed, noted the SDM.

According to sources, after the transport contractor didn’t receive his payment, he decided to stall the work at the site citing that his drivers weren’t ready to work in the absence of salaries.

Trucks and cranes are parked in a row at the construction site in Dera Baba Nanak. The truckers entered a strike on August 24, after which the work has also come to a standstill.

Beant Singh, a truck driver at the site, said the drivers have not received the salaries by the contractor due to which they have decided to stop the work of construction. “We are facing a severe problem as we have no money to send back to our families,” revealed Beant.

Punjab cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who had won from the constituency where the corridor is being built attacked the central government. Randhawa who recently visited the construction site noted that the work on the Pakistani side is going on at a fast pace. “It seems that the central government is not serious in completing the project within the stipulated time frame,” he told 101Reporters.

The state government has already acquired 62 acres of land for the project and acquisition of 50 acres of land for the integrated check post by the Land Port Authority of India is under process.

While the construction of the road is stalled, black-topping work and construction of the integrated check post are going on as usual.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had recently suggested that the work on Kartarpur corridor should be stopped as it could be used by Pakistan to fuel terror in Punjab, a remark that had triggered a major controversy.

(All pictures of stalled work on Kartarpur corridor. The Sikh man in a blue turban is truck driver Beant Singh, mentioned in the story.)

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