India has the potential of becoming a global drone hub, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the two-day Drone Festival of India 2022 in New Delhi.
“The enthusiasm we are seeing in drone technology in India is amazing. This energy is an indicator of the huge leap in drones-as-a-service and drone dependent industries. It also reflects the emergence of a potential employment generating sector in the country,” he said.
“New technology brings disruption but it also opens new opportunities,” he added.
Before his speech, Modi awarded digital certificates to 150 drone pilots at the inauguration event. He also met young farmers who were using drones in farming.
Modi urged officials to attend the drone festival to understand how they can use drones in their departments. He also urged foreign investors and technology companies to be a part of the emerging drone industry in India. The prime minister praised the fact that many drones on display at the festival were made in India.
The Indian government has been encouraging the application of drones in different sectors. Last August, India introduced liberalised drone rules which replaced complex approval processes required to fly drones and made the certification process easier.
A month later, India also approved a ₹120 crore production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing drones and drone components in India.
“Until a few months ago, there were lots of restrictions on drones. In a very short time we removed many of the restrictions. Through PLI in drone manufacturing we are heading towards building a strong ecosystem for drones,” Modi said in his speech.
Early this year, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Drone Shakti initiative at the union budget speech in February. As part of the initiative government will promote application of
Drones-As-A-Service (DrAAS) in various sectors including agriculture, where it will be used for crop assessment and spraying of insecticides and nutrients. The government is also planning to start courses for skilling in select ITIs across states.
“Drones are being used for land mapping and digitisation of land ownership records,” he said, adding that 65 lakh property cards have been generated under the PM Swamitva Yojna and drones played an important role in it.
Modi further said that drones will encourage farmers to plant new crops such as pulses as it will make it easier to spray. It can help farmers identify which areas are infected and spray insecticides carefully. This prevents over use of insecticides. Delivery of medicine in remote areas has been a challenge. Drone can be very useful in this.
Modi has a point. States like Telangana are working on projects to integrate drones in the medicine supply chain, especially in remote areas. From June onwards Redcliffe labs will also start daily drone flights to ferry test samples of patients from Uttarkashi to their lab in Dehradun. The drone will take 80% less time than delivery by road.