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Empowering India’s Drone Ecosystem

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The government introduced the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Drones and Drone Components, aiming to encourage the domestic manufacturing of drones and their parts. The goal is to promote self-sustainability and enhance global competitiveness in the drone industry.

On 9 February 2022, the drone import policy was officially notified, which prohibits the import of foreign drones while allowing the import of drone components. Additionally, the country’s drone rules have been relaxed to facilitate broader and more diverse applications of drones.

According to a press release, due to the favourable factors of the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021, the implementation of the PLI scheme, the ban on drone imports, and the expanding use of the technology, the drone industry is expected to experience significant growth over the next few years, leading to a rise in employment opportunities.

Since the notification of the Drone Rules in 2021, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has approved 63 Remote Pilot Training Organisations (RPTOs) across the country, responsible for providing drone training and skilling. So far, these training schools have issued more than 5,500 Remote Pilot Certificates (RPCs) and a total of 10,010 drones have been registered with a Unique Identification Number (UIN). Additionally, the DGCA has issued 25 types of certificates for drones manufactured in India.

The DGCA has approved the applications of three more RPTOs in Madhya Pradesh, namely Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Gwalior, Ultimate Energy Resource Private Ltd in Bhopal, and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Bhopal.

The government has been making consistent efforts to facilitate the growth of drone technology in the country. As OpenGov Asia had reported earlier, according to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, India wants to become a centre for drone technology and aims to have a minimum of 100,000 drone pilots this year.

The government uses drone technology for several applications in India. For instance, during the pandemic, Varanasi used drones under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) to spray sanitizer in COVID-19-sensitive areas. These drones were specially transported from Chennai via cargo flights with the approval of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

The drone team would assess the designated sanitisation area, plan a flight path, and then deploy the drone filled with a chemical solution containing 1% sodium hypochlorite. Experienced drone pilots would control the flight using remote-control devices while following the planned flight path.

MoCA had also allowed the state government of Telangana to conduct experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities had exempted the state from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rules. This was part of India’s constant endeavour to enhance the scope of drone usage in the country and assist the nation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The BVLOS trials helped create the regulatory framework for drone deliveries and other major applications.

Drone technology is also used in the Swamitva Scheme, which utilises drones to survey land and houses. This initiative enables citizens in remote areas to officially document their residential properties, allowing them to use their property for economic purposes.

In addition, drones are being employed in the agricultural sector as part of the Kisan Drone Yatra project, where 100 Kisan drones have been deployed to villages across the country for pesticide and nano fertilizer spraying.

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