The Gujarat government has unveiled a new policy for state departments and organisations to promote the use of drones - remotely controlled unmanned aerial vehicles - for operations and service delivery.
The state government has also said that the drone usage policy aims to create 25,000 jobs in the industry in Gujarat. Drone manufacturers, users, pilots, co-pilots will have to register on the Digital Sky platform and get a unique identification number and demarcation area from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to operate it.
The policy aims to create a vibrant drone ecosystem to make various public services “more effective, popular, efficient and faster with the use of advanced technology,” stated a government release.
The policy, valid for a period of five years, will allow state government departments to play a catalyst role to encourage commercial use of drones. 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, as per the policy.
For its implementation, a 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 advanced technologies and innovative methods," the statement said.
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 Gujarat government.
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 have been noted in the policy. For example, the agriculture department will use it for spraying pesticides, fertilisers, sowing of seeds, and monitoring soil quality. The industries and mining department would use it for surveillance of mining areas and mineral blocks and leases, and so on.
According to the Drone Industry Insights Report 2020, the worldwide drone industry is predicted to increase at a 13.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $42.8 billion by 2025. India’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.9% between 2020 and 2026.
As per research firm, BIS Research, the drone market in India is likely to touch $1.81 billion (₹13,330 crore) by Financial Year 2026 growing at a CAGR of 14.61 per cent
In recent months, the government of India is promoting drones in a big way to encourage the use of drones for operations and delivery services, especially with events such as Bharat Drone Mahotsav, held in May 2022. At the inauguration of the Drone Festival of India 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that India has the potential of becoming a global drone hub.
Further the Drone (Amendment) Rules 2022 enacted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in February 2022 brought key amendments to the previous rules such as the remote pilot certificate (or the licence) is no more needed to fly small and medium drones up to 2 kgs for non-commercial purposes.