India's new Drone Policy

Way back in 2016, futurist Thomas Frey had predicted that at least 1 billion drones would be in the world by 2030 and would affect lives in countless ways we can't even imagine. Today, several sectors are using drones for unimaginable applications and have proven Frey's words true. It is clear that no corporation or country can say no to drones. Consequently, in keeping with the time, India has recently released its national drone policy.

Drone India's new Drone Policy

What is new for Drones?

The new set of rules have trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring as three fundamentals. However, experts say due care is taken to balance them with safety and security considerations. Following are the highlights of what is new: – The new rules have cut down the paperwork involved in securing permissions for drone operations by 1/5th. – Single-window clearance system called 'Digital Sky Platform' is created. – Different types of fees that were levied have been reduced from 72 to a mere 4. – The airspace for drones will be divided into three categories: Green, Yellow and Red. There will be no permissions required to fly drones in Green airspace. – Drone corridors will be created to facilitate the delivery of cargo. The payload limit is increased from 300 kg to 500 kg.

Which sectors benefit?

So far, more or less, drones have been restricted for full-fledged use only with the defence services. However, with the new rules, drones could be used for several businesses and activities. – Food and medicine delivery may undergo a paradigm shift under the new rules. However, there are concerns voices about the danger drones pose to the jobs in this area. – Agriculture could be one of the biggest beneficiaries. Agricultural surveys, crop monitoring, agriculture spraying, etc., may vastly use drones under the new rules. – Apart from this, land surveys, surveillance and security, aerial cinematography, construction and infrastructure, traffic management are just some of the areas we know of, apart from hundreds of others, which could benefit from drones.

What do industry experts say?

Welcoming the changes, Smit Shah, Director of the Drone Federation of India, has estimated the Indian drone market to grow to ₹50,000 crores or $6.8 billion or more in the next five years.

Drones are seen as an 'economic force multiplier', and India's timely policy changes may help make it a global drone hub for research and development, testing, manufacturing and operations by 2030 as envisaged by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry.