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Pak paves visa road for bus to Lahore

New Delhi, July 1: The administrative hitches in the relaunch of the Delhi-Lahore bus service seems to be over with Pakistan granting visas to seven crew members of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

However, the neighbours are yet to decide on a date for resumption of the service.

India has proposed July 11 as the date for restarting the service. “There is no word yet from the Pakistani side on this,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

The two countries had decided to re-start the service today when a delegation from Pakistan arrived here in the middle of last month to work out with DTC officials the modalities for bringing the Delhi-Lahore bus back on road. However, due to “technical reasons” the service has been delayed.

The buses were taken off the road on December 31, 2001, more than a fortnight after terrorists stormed into Parliament.

Interestingly, the granting of visas to the DTC drivers coincided with the arrival of Pakistan’s new high commissioner, Aziz Ahmed Khan. India, too, has given visas to the Pakistan bus crew.

DTC officials are hopeful of starting the service from July 11 as they believe that by then “all formalities would be completed”.

A senior DTC officer said they were waiting for a green signal to start bookings for the twice-a-week service to Lahore. Earlier it used to run on Fridays and Saturdays, with the 540-km journey costing Rs 800 per passenger.

The Ambedkar Nagar bus terminal has been given a facelift to upgrade it to international standards and security-check equipment have been put in place. The two golden-coloured buses have been overhauled and are parked at a workshop.

DTC officials said policemen have been posted at the workshop considering the security involved.

Delhi police are not taking the issue of security lightly as the Shiv Sena has again voiced its displeasure against resumption of the service.

Delhi transport minister Ajay Maken said everything was in place to relaunch the service. They were only waiting for the foreign ministry clearance.

The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has not yet reimbursed dues of Rs 24.61 lakh which they had agreed to settle at the recent meeting, he pointed out.

But it would not come in the way of resumption of the popular service, Maken added.

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