The Drone Rules, 2021, as they will be known, reduces the number of forms and permissions required to be submitted by drone manufacturers and operators from 25 to just five, while removing the requirement for security clearances for registration and license issuance.
The government also said it would repeal the UAS Rules, 2021, which came into effect only in March this year, after receiving feedback from industry and academia that those rules were restrictive and required considerable paperwork and permissions. “Based on the feedback, the government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021, and replace the same with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021,” the government said in a statement.
The new rules also set the ball rolling for India to introduce an airspace map designating the entire country’s landmass into green, yellow and red zones, which will be done within 30 days of the publishing of the rules on the country’s single-window drone platform Digital Sky.
It also increases the maximum payload carrying capacity for drones from 300 kg to 500 kg and paves the way for development of drone taxis. The drone rules also remove the requirement for a remote pilot licence to fly nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial purposes, a key ask by the industry.
Further, drones present in India on or before November 30, 2021, will be provided with a unique identification number through the Digital Sky platform and will be considered as DGCA-approved.
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The government in introducing these new rules said that the drone sector can offer tremendous benefits to sectors including agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence and law enforcement.
It added that the industry has significant potential to boost employment and create economic growth, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas, while saying that India has the potential to become a global drone hub by 2030.
Other changes made to the rules which are in line with industry’s demands is the reduction of yellow zones from 45 km to just 12 km around the perimeters of airports, while designating the area between 8 km and 12 km from an airport up to a height of 200 feet as green zones, requiring no prior permission for flights.
Another important move is the abolishing of import clearances for drones by the DGCA, with the new rules instead saying that import of the devices will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
The rules also envisions the creation of drone corridors for cargo deliveries, will facilitate the setting up of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council to promote the adoption and use of drones, and will set up incubators and other facilities for development of the industry.
ET had reported on Thursday that the Drone Rules, 2021 would be notified by the government before the end of the month, following the release of the draft rules on July 15 which was open to public feedback until August 5.