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Insights into Editorial: Use drones more effectively: Civil Aviation Ministry

Context:

In a nationwide programme to take the third eye to the sky, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has called for more effective utilisation of drone applications and urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance, situational analysis, crime control, VVIP security, disaster management, etc.

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has released Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for drone application in Agriculture.

 

About Drones:

Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA). There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft- Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Autonomous Aircraft and Model Aircraft.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.

 

Application of Drone Technology:

Drones offered tremendous benefits to almost every sector of the economy, including but not limited to, national defence, agriculture, law enforcement, and mapping, among others.

  1. Drone system can be used as a symmetric weapon against terrorist attacks.
  2. Drones can be integrated into the national airspace system.
  3. Deployment of drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions can be done.
  4. Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved a project with the Telangana government for using drone technology to deliver vaccines in remote areas.
  5. In the agriculture sector, micronutrients can be spread with the help of drones.
  6. It can also be used for performing surveys for identifying the challenges faced by the farmers.
  7. The drone technology in the SVAMITVA scheme launched by the Government of India, within less than a year, has helped about half a million village residents to get their property cards by mapping out the abadi areas.
  8. Drones can be used for real-time surveillance of assets and transmission lines, theft prevention, visual inspection/maintenance, construction planning and management, etc
  9. They can be used for anti-poaching actions, monitoring of forests and wildlife, pollution assessment, and evidence gathering.
  10. Drones are also significant for the law enforcement agencies, the fire and emergency services wherever human intervention is not safe and the healthcare services.

 

 

 

Drone Rules, 2021:

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has unveiled the Drone Rules, 2021 based on trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring”.

The new rules would replace the existing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, notified in March, 2021.

The aim was to create a “digital sky platform” as a business-friendly single-window online system for procuring various approvals.

There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.

 

Promotion of Drones manufacturing and usage under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan:

  1. Drones are one of the 24 sectors that are taken care of by the Government of India under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as the area where the Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme can be well implemented.
  2. India not only has a very extensive R&D being carried out at institutions like IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi etc but also at the same time the research is being transformed into products.
  3. As part of the initiatives to make India a global hub for drones under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and in the backdrop of the Union Government rolling out the liberalised Drone Rules 2021, experts suggested the heads of various Ministries promote effective use of the technology.
  4. The suggestions include deployment of drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions, etc., by the Ministry of Defence; and delivery of medicines, collection of samples from remote or epidemic/pandemic-affected areas by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  5. Acting on the recommendations that unmanned aerial vehicles could be used to undertake disaster management, incidence response, inspection/maintenance works and project monitoring.
  6. The Ministry of Railways wrote to General Managers across its network to implement the ideas, sources in the Railways said, adding that the Principal Chief Security Commissioner, Western Railway, had been nominated as the nodal officer to co-ordinate with the Aviation Ministry for guidance and support.
  7. India has more than 130 startups registered with IITs and other companies for introducing drones in multiple application areas.

 

Real-time surveillance with the help of Drones:

The Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Power Ministries, have been asked to fly drones for real-time surveillance of assets and transmission lines, theft prevention, visual inspection/maintenance, construction planning and management, etc.

Drone operations suggested for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry include anti-poaching actions, monitoring of forests and wildlife, pollution assessment, and evidence gathering.

As a complete replacement to expensive helicopter-based videography, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting could use drones for high-quality videography of events and difficult-to-reach-places at a fraction of the cost and approvals required.

This move would also facilitate low altitude shooting without noise, and prevent dust pollution and risk of accidents.

 

Conclusion:

The drone technology in India has immense significance and potential. The security concerns should be dealt with judiciously and not just be allowed to restrict us from adopting the technology.

However, security concerns must not be compromised. In years to come, drone technology is expected to be the most cost effective choice and the most utilised system in the civilian as well as militarian domain.