New passport office turns Mundhwa Road into a commercial hub
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In October this year, Sukhdev Nana Gaikwad opened a vegetarian restaurant, Yashwant, near Passport Seva Kendra on the Mundhwa Road. The decision, he says, was a calculated one. "Hundreds of people visit the passport office on a daily basis from various parts of the city and even from the outskirts. Opening a decent eating place in the area made sense, considering there are hardly any restaurant in this area," says Gaikwad. The place now feeds almost 400 to 500 customers a day.
"I am quite confident that very soon I will break-even because the response has been extremely encouraging," says Gaikwad, a resident of Pingle Vasti (Mundhwa Road).
Tapping into the 'business' opportunity since PSK opened on Mundhwa Road a few months ago, a number of small and medium business set-ups have mushroomed in the area — restaurants, fast food joints, notary offices, Xerox centres et al. Besides Yashwant restaurant, other eateries that have opened recently in the area include Sagar Biryani House and Roll Mania.
In order to ease the pressure off the passport office on Senapati Bapat Road, the authorities opened another branch on Mundhwa Road a few months ago. While new passport applications are received at the Mundhwa Road office, the old one on Senapati Bapat Road processes Tatkal passports only.
Around two weeks ago, Shahaji Tulsidas Kokate, a resident of Hadapsar, started Sagar Biryani House near PSK. "People from districts like Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur come to the PSK for passport-related work. Often, they have to be there for long hours. It made sense to start an eating joint here," says Kokate, adding that it has been just two weeks into the business but he has received good response from the customers.
Advocate Ajay Kale, who already has an office on Senapati Bapat Road, opened a second one in this area around two months ago. While he sits at the Senapati Bapat Road office from 9 am to 1 pm, he attends to his Mundhwa Road clients looking for passport-related legal documents from 2 pm to 6 pm. However, Kale complains that compared to the old passport office, the workload at the new venue has come down to one-third. "Even walk-in clients used to be around 40 to 50, but now they have reduced to 10 per cent," says Kale, who has been into this profession for the last ten years.