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[Yojana Archive] Drone Policy

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October 2021

Drones in India

  • Drones, officially known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), have been in widespread use in the Indian military since the 1990s.
  • While the first drones were imported into India from Israel for use in active combat, DRDO has since then developed numerous indigenous drones.
  • They have been successfully deployed by the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • The evolving nature of warfare has prioritised training in and preparation for stealth missions.
  • Drones are a key element of this transformation and are indispensable in reconnaissance, precision targeting, and intelligence gathering, among others.

Indian Drone Market

  • India is currently the third-largest importer of military-grade drones with 6.8 per cent of total Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imports according to a report by SIPRI.
  • Reports suggest that India is already the fastest-growing drone market in the world.
  • A January 2020 report by PwC also suggested that the market size of drones in India would be USD 885 million.
  • To leverage this opportunity effectively, therefore, the liberalised policy has been welcomed by industry players and drone enthusiasts alike.
  • It also comes at an opportune time as global businesses expand to include drones in business-efficiency enhancement, speed delivery, and expand operations.

PLI Scheme for Drone Industry

  • Government has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Drone Industry with incentives worth ₹ 26,058 crore will be provided to industry over five years.
  • This will incentivize emergence of Advanced Automotive Technologies global supply chain in India and help create additional employment of over 7.6 lakh people.
  • It will bring fresh investments of over₹5,000 crore in three years and incremental production of over ₹ 1,500 crore.

Drone Rules, 2021

These rules are built on the premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring. The policy is designed to usher in an era of super-normal growth while balancing safety and security considerations.

Some of the key features are as under:

Number of forms: The rules propose to reduce the number of forms required for manufacturing, importing, testing, certifying and operating drones in India from 25 to six.

Abolishing authorization number: The draft seeks to abolish the unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, and certificate of conformance that were previously required for approval of drone flights.

Digital Sky Platform: Digital Sky, a platform launched by the government in December 2018, will become a single-window system for all approvals under the newly proposed rules.

Airspace map: An airspace map segregating the entire landmass of India into Green, Yellow and Red zones will be published on the platform within 30 days of notification of the new rules, the government said. The map will also be machine-readable through an Application Programming Interface (API) for easier plotting of drone flight paths.

Airport Perimeter: The draft rules reduced the airport perimeter from 45 km to 12 km. The rules state that no flight permissions would be required to fly up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

Drone corridors: The government will also publish a policy framework for Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) within 60 days of notifying the rules. This will also include frameworks for developing “drone corridors” for the safe transfer of goods by drones.

Drone Promotion Council: The Rules also propose the setting up of a Drone Promotion Council, with the aim of facilitating a business-friendly regulatory regime for drones in India, the establishment of incubators for developing drone technologies and organizing competitive events to showcase drones and counter-drone solutions.

Others: To implement safety features such as “no permission, no take-off”, real-time tracking and geofencing, drone manufacturers, importers and operators will get six months’ time to comply from the date of notification of the rules.

Security imperative and Drones

  • The integration of unmanned aircraft systems into national air-force is critical and challenging both.
  • We have incidences were arms, narcotic drugs have been dropped by drones. So, security challenges are increasing.
  • DRDO has come up with an Anti-drone system. This makes India capable of where drones can be jammed.
  • Other is one can shoot the drone through lasers. But this has potential threats to humans.
  • Drones are called eyes in the sky as they are used by law enforcement agencies, fire emergency services, health care facilities.

Conclusion

  • The drone industry (manufacturing and operation) is still grappling with evolutionary challenges in India.
  • The ministry of civil aviation’s decision to liberalize the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammu showcases the government’s bold approach.
  • They are necessary to promote the use of the drone and the government must focus on the development of counter-drone technology to address the threat posed by rogue drones.
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