**Mumbai: ** 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.
As a first pilot project, four offices of MEA — Regional Passport Office (RPO), Protector of Emigrants (PoE) office, Branch Secretariat and Regional Office of ICCR — have been integrated and brought to function under one roof at the state-of-art office in BKC, said Regional Passport Officer Swati Kulkarni.
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 (Retd), Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Administrator of Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Praful Patel, besides other dignitaries.
The formal inauguration by the minister 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.
The pilot project of the Videsh Bhavan 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.