MEA's 2nd integrated office at renovated Regional Passport Office in Hyderabad

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Hyderabad, Oct 29 (PTI)Union Minister V Muraleedharan on Thursday said passport application processhas become much more user friendly due to efforts made by the ministry, and expressed hope that work would resume in full swingand reach pre-COVID-19 level in due course as theeconomy reopens.

The Minister of State for External Affairswas speaking after virtually inaugurating therenovated premises of RegionalPassport Office, Hyderabad, which will houseMEA's second integrated complex, after Mumbai.

The renovated RPO Hyderabad premises willbe an integrated facility.

He saideven during the (COVID-19 induced) lockdown period, the passportoffices were working to bring down the passportpendency. 'Now international travel is graduallypicking up despite the ongoing restrictions.MEA has taken a decision to resume passport operations throughout the country.

We are closely working with the Department ofPosts to reopen all post office passport sevakendras,'Muraleedharan said.

On the integrataed complex, he said MEA officeslocated in Hyderabad including the MEA'sBranch Secretariat, theProtector of Emigrants officeand the Indian Council for Cultural Relations RegionalOffice will be shifted to this facility.

As aresult all MEA related services, whether it ispassport or immigration services, will be availableunder a single roofwithin thepremises of RPO Hyderabad,he said.

'This makes Hyderabad the only second cityin India after Mumbai to have an integrated MEAcomplex.

Today's inauguration of the renovatedpremises of the Regional Passport Office Hyderabad is a milestone in the operation of RPOHyderabad,'Muraleedharan said.

The renovated building will have state-of- the-art infrastructure and will provide topclass facilities to all citizens, he said.

In the past five to six yearsthe Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) hasdrastically expanded the reach of passport servicesto doorsteps of citizens through passport sevakendras and post office passport seva kendras, according to him.

'The Ministry was issuing on an averageapproximately 10 lakh passports every month beforethe COVID-19 pandemic struck.We are hopeful of resuming our work in full swingand reach the pre-pandemic level in due course as oureconomy reopens,' he said.

He said due to the conscious efforts made by the Ministry,entire passport application processhas become much more user friendly and pleasant.

'In the past the documentation required forobtaining a passport was so complex that insteadof facilitating, the rules were a major deterrentfor any law abiding citizen who wanted to obtain apassport.

..Thanks to the vision of former External AffairsMinister late Sushma Swaraj, thepassport rules were updated, simplified and expanded tomeet the requirement of changing times,' Muraleedharan said.

The time taken to issue a passport has beensignificantly reduced due to usage of technologyin completing the police verification process.

In most states, police verificationis carried out through the police verification app and thereforedata captured is transmitted in real time making the processsimpler and quicker, the Union Minister said and urgedother state governments touse this technology.PTI VVK BN WELCOME VVK BN WELCOME

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