Sushma Swaraj inaugurates India’s first ‘Videsh Bhavan’ in Mumbai

By Sarkaritel August 27, 2017 19:52

Sushma Swaraj inaugurates India’s first ‘Videsh Bhavan’ in Mumbai


Mumbai, Aug 27 (IANS) Signalling a significant new era in cooperation with states, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated the country’s first Videsh Bhavan, assimilating all Regional Passport Offices and allied departments under a single roof at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) here on Sunday.

In her address on the occasion, she said that ever since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government assumed office in 2014, “the face of the Ministry of External Affairs has changed.”

“Till 2014, there were 77 passport centres in the country. We have managed to open up 235 centres in the past six months,” said Sushma Swaraj.

Discussing the efforts to streamline passport procedures, she said many rules that created hurdles for people to apply for a passport have been discarded.

“Earlier, orphans who did not have a birth certificate were not entitled to a passport, similarly for divorcees. We have changed the rules, amended them to make them more citizen-friendly.”

In his speech, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said this is the first Videsh Bhavan of the country and “will be a model for all other states to follow.”

“Being an international class city, Mumbai works very closely with the MEA and the Videsh Bhavan will help even more,” he said.

Noting projects initiated from Mumbai always succeed, he expressed confidence in the success of the initiative.

As a first pilot project, four offices of MEA — Regional Passport Office, Protector of Emigrants office, Branch Secretariat and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations’ Regional Office — have been integrated and brought to function under one roof at the state-of-art office in BKC, said Regional Passport Officer Swati Kulkarni.

Earlier, Sushma Swaraj lit the auspicious lamp marking the inauguration of the Videsh Bhavan in the presence of Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh (eetd), Fadnavis, Administrator of Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Praful Patel, besides other dignitaries.

The formal inauguration on Sunday follows the shifting of the RPO from its Worli premises to the Videsh Bhavan from August 14 and merging of the Thane and Mumbai RPOs from August 21, which have already become functional.

“The Videsh Bhavan is part of the MEA’s effective management of its engagement with the Maharashtra government,” said an official, on what is billed as the first “foreign office in India”.

The Videsh Bhavan project in Mumbai is part of the central government’s policy to bring together different offices of the MEA under a single roof and work closely with states as more and more Indians are going abroad for employment, education, business and tourism.

The existing Passport Seva Kendras in Thane, Thane-II, Malad (Mumbai) and Nashik will continue to function from their existing locations but under the administrative jurisdiction of the RPO Mumbai.

Currently, many of the 90-plus RPOs and PoEs function from rented offices and the implementation of similar Videsh Bhavans in different state capitals is expected to cut costs besides ensuring improving efficiency and speeding up the delivery of various services.

By Sarkaritel August 27, 2017 19:52