Civil Aviation Ministry is planning to launch the ‘drone policy’ stating the civil aviation requirements to give fillip to the industry which has seen huge growth in the recent past but possess more potential for growth which is presently dogged by hazy laws and policy paranoia.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – the future –
- Drones are actually military inventions which later became popular in civilian sectors such as construction, mining, agriculture, media, policing and insurance to propel growth and innovation in these sectors.
- Start-up activity in civilian drones has already picked up in Rs 2.000 crores plus drone market of India, with over a dozen companies developing cutting-edge UAVs and drone-based solutions to attract investor interest.
- According to Goldman Sachs, drones offer almost a $100 billion business opportunity by 2020 around the globe.
Past policy mistakes –
- UAV companies and investors are not too impressed with the last year’s draft policy released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation which failed to specify the intent of the government and accommodated several grey areas regarding controls over the use of UAVs even for basic civilian purpose like hobby flying and education.
- Centre imposed several curbs on the use of UAVs in the country in November 2017, directing that all drones must be registered with local law enforcement agencies.
- Categorisation by Civil Aviation Ministry of drones (based on weights) covered drones starting from less than 250 gm to over 150 kg. This categorisation caused a drop in the use of drones for even recreational purpose and caused a lot of turbulence and confusion in terms of criteria for obtaining clearance from the Home Ministry and the unique identification number.
What must be done?
- The new draft policy must shed the paranoia over drones and their use so that end-users, developers and law enforcement agencies do not get confused about their use and regulation.
- A clear distinction can be made between regulations covering the use of drones in thickly populated urban and rural areas with proper controls to safeguard citizens’ privacy and safety without unnecessary strictures.
- Arbitrary provisions of the past such as equalising the pilots of both micro and mini drones in terms of license approval must be done away with to realise the true growth potential of the civilian drone industry.
UAVs have helped us extensively in photography, aerial surveys, fire-fighting, weather forecasting and construction activities. The new policy should enhance the momentum that is brought forward by the industry and not create disruptions in the booming market for UAVs.
Source –The Hindu Business Line
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