New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian government has widely deployed drones for surveillance, sanitisation of public spaces and COVID-19 relief operation in cities and slums. Its actions have reduced the risk of infection spread among frontline workers.
India on Tuesday launched the Government Authorisation for Relief Using Drones (GARUD) portal to fast-track approval for drone operations related to COVID-19 surveillance by government agencies.
The portal will help in securing approval for the use of drones for surveillance purposes and disinfection of public spaces.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said, “The step has been taken to aid govt entities in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 & shall remain in force until further orders. Any violation of provisions of this Notice shall make the conditional exemption null & void & shall lead to penal action.”
However, the new policy comes with restrictions. The federal government has made it clear that only battery-operated drones and remotely piloted aircraft are eligible for permission to fly. The drones cannot be operated before sunrise or after sunset and not at a height of more than 200 metres.
Until now, only government agencies were permitted to deploy their drones or ones obtained from third party providers. According to the Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), every drone needs to have a drone acknowledgement number (DAN) to operate.
There has been widespread drone deployment in India to address the challenges posed by the pandemic. Health start-ups have delivered and collected medicines and blood sample through drones, and drones are also being used by police for surveillance to control the lockdown and to deliver essential supplies.