Over the last few years, drone technology has found credence in multiple industries including logistics, policing, agriculture and even the military. India, too is capitalising on this boom after amending formerly stringent drone rules in August. The liberalised drone rules made considerable changes to the regulation of drone aircraft in India, allowing individuals and businesses to reap benefits of the fascinating technology unlike ever before.
With new drone corridors in place and the mandatory requirement of pilot licences now void, drones could change the development of different sectors in the country. In the following list, we list five ways in which India is boosting its drone industry and how all of us could benefit from this radical change in drone perception.
1. Drones used to enforce SVAMITVA Scheme
The SVAMITVA Scheme (Survey of villages and mapping with improvised technology in village areas) is aimed at providing rural residents of India the documentation to engage their properties in the economy. The reformative step to establish clear ownership of property in rural areas by mapping of land parcels using drone technology began in 2020 and is expected to go on until 2025.
According to the Government of India, over 6,62 lakh villages will be eventually covered in this mapping scheme, with work spread out over five years. With this, the government hopes to provide financial stability to rural residents by allowing them to use their land in conducting transactions or while applying for loans.
In addition, drones would also help government map rural areas to complement land records, which would assist in rural planning.
2. Liberalised drone rules
The government of India recently released liberalised drone rules which will help Indian entrepreneurs compete on a global stage in terms of drone technology development and usage. The liberalised drone regulations were released by Ministry of Civil Aviation on 26 August, 2021 for Indians to create cutting-edge products in the industry with hopes of making India a drone technology hub in the coming years.
Under the new rules, the total number of forms that were to be filled by a user has been reduced from 25 to five. In addition, the total number of mandatory fees to be paid before operating drones has been reduced from 72 to four.
In addition, the government has set out an airspace map to help owners of unmanned aircraft vehicle, or drones find out where they can and cannot fly their drones. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly lowered in the revised rules, which you can read here.
3. PLI scheme for drone and drone components
To assist the growth of drone technology, which is in its nascent stage in India, a production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme has been put into motion in India. The PLI envisages a total amount of ₹120 crores spread over three years, nearly the double of combined sales turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in the financial year of 2020-21, according to Government of India.
With this incentive, more companies could be inspired to invest in drone development technology which has multi-fold benefits in various fields, especially for agriculture and security in India.
To this end, manufacturers of drones and drone components shall receive an incentive as high as 20 per cent for improving the drone technology over three years if they avail the aforementioned scheme. That’s not it! Even developers of drone-related software can seek the PLI. The minimum value addition norm for software developers is fixed at 40 per cent of net sales.
4. Hara Bahara project: A mission to plant 1 billion trees by 2030 in India
India’s Hara Bahara project in the state of Telangana is trying to avert an ecological catastrophe by planting 1 billion trees by the year 2030. The project was announced about the liberalised drone rules came into force and will be performed in partnership with a drone start-up called “Marut Drones”.
As part of this mission, 50 lakh trees will be planted across 12,00 hectares of land in all the 33 districts of Telangana.
For this, Marut Drones’ “Seedcopter” will be used, an aerial solution to help with seeding which could be highly lucrative for reforestation.
5. Making things easier for start-ups and MSMEs
To urge start-ups and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) to invest in drone technology, the government of India has kept the eligibility norm of annual sales turnover at a low level –
₹2 crore for drones and ₹50 lakh for drone components, which could compel companies to take risks in the drone ecosystem.
Similarly, for non-MSME companies, the annual sales turnover cap has been set at
₹4 crore for drones and
₹1 crore for drone components. To expand the scope of these benefits, the PLI benefits are capped at 25 per cent of yearly spending.
It appears that the sharp criticism thrown the government’s way after the previous drone rules really struck a chord as evident in these concrete measures that could reshape the route of not just drone technology, but how industries in the company operate. A Government of India estimate claims that such measures could drive drone and drone manufacturing industries to witness investments of over ₹5,000 crore over the next three years.