The Gujarat government on Wednesday unveiled a new policy for state departments and organisations to promote the use of drones for operations and delivery of services to beneficiaries and said it seeks to create 25,000 employment opportunities and attract investment. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel unveiled the “Drone Promotion and Usage Policy” at a function in the state capital Gandhinagar.
The policy aims to create a “vibrant drone ecosystem, including manufacturing and innovation, by promoting the use of drones for service delivery” and make various public services “more effective, popular, efficient and faster with the use of advanced technology,” stated a government release.
It also aims to create 25,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities and attract investment for development, operation and maintenance of drone services ecosystem in the state, it said.
Valid for a period of five years, the policy will allow state government departments to play a catalyst role to encourage commercial use of drones (remotely controlled unmanned aerial vehicles).
As per the policy, within six months, various state government departments, public sector undertakings (PSUs), boards and organisations will formulate schemes and programmes to promote use of drones in their respective domains.
For its implementation, an empowered monitoring committee of eight senior secretaries will be formed under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department. The committee will meet periodically and monitor the initiatives taken by various departments and PSUs for drone promotion and usage.
“Private and public investment in areas like research and development-innovation-manufacturing-testing-training and safety regulation will be encouraged for widespread use of drones in the state through innovative methods,” the release stated.
As per the policy, the user departments will provide preferences to startups, Make In India companies and MSMEs (micro, small & medium enterprises) as per procurement norms of the Government of Gujarat.
It will also promote setting up of training infrastructure to improve availability of qualified manpower in the state and incentivise startups and other drone manufacturing units.
The policy also aims to mitigate risks and meet safety challenges by specifying prohibited (no-fly zone), restricted and open areas by deployment of “drone traffic police,” the release said.
The proposed drone usage by various departments has been noted in the policy. For example, the home department will use drones in crowd management, for maintaining vigil at vital installations, VVIP, border and coastal security and disaster management, among other areas.
The agriculture department will use it for spraying pesticides, fertilisers, sowing of seeds, and monitoring soil quality. For the industries and mining department, it would be for surveillance of mining areas and mineral blocks and leases.
For the health and family welfare department, drones will be deployed for delivery of medical supplies and blood, while for the forest department the remotely controlled unmanned aircraft will be used for lion census and tracking of wildlife, among other activities.
Some of the departments have already started using drones.
They were extensively used to keep strict vigil during the recent Rath Yatra by the home department. The industries and mines department has launched ‘Trinetra’ drones to control illegal mining.