#Budget2022: Everything you should know about Centre's 'Drone Shakti' initiative
Presenting the Union Budget 2022 on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the "Drone Shakti" project to promote startups in the country. With "drone as a service," Sitharaman said, "startups will be promoted to facilitate Drone Shakti through the varied application." Sitharaman also announced "Kisan Drones" for crop assessment, land records, and spraying of insecticides to drive a wave of technology in agricultural sector.
- The announcement of 'Drone Shakti' in the Budget came months after the Centre liberalized the Drone Rules in 2021.
- The rules aim to reduce the compliance burden in operating a drone.
- The 'Drone Shakti' project is expected to boost the domestic drone industry.
- Reportedly, the drone market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.9% during 2020-2026.
The Drone Shakti initiative aims to promote and facilitate drones as a service through startups. This initiative, along with the government's Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones, is expected to increase domestic manufacturing and create employment. As the government is opening up the drone sector for private players, more companies and startups are expected to shoot up their investment in this sector.
"The current government has taken a serious paradigm shift on drone technology," Nagendran Kandasamy, Founder & CEO of Throttle Aerospace Systems Pvt Ltd, told Business Today. "The government has a clear vision and focus towards this emerging industry," he said. "Drone Shakti & Kisan Drones will help take this technology to impact common people on grass root level at a massive scale," he added.
"The budget announced that start-ups will be promoted for Drone Shakti to make drones a service. This will help widen the scope of services for start-ups in India," said Vimal Nadar, Head of Research, Colliers India.
The use of drones in farming in India is shooting up. Many states are also examining technical and safety parameters to allow the application of drones. Last week, the Rajasthan government carried out a pilot on the outskirts of Jaipur where drones were used to spray fertilizers on crops. Meanwhile, the Drone Rules 2021 also increased the payload capacity of drones used in farming.
Last month, the Union Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Ministry amended the guidelines of "Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization" to promote the use of drones in agriculture. The guidelines will provide subsidies of up to 100% of the cost of drones or Rs.10 lakh, whichever is higher.
Apart from agriculture, a drone-based surveillance system is also being introduced for Railway Security. India also deployed drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. The ICMR-led pilot project on this is being rolled out in Manipur, Nagaland and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Furthermore, drones are used for surveillance of COVID-19 hotspots and containment zones to ensure strict compliance with lockdown guidelines.
In August last year, the Centre passed the Drone Rules 2021 to "liberalize" the norms governing drone usage in India. The new rules have relaxed and simplified certain procedures to reduce the compliance burden in operating a drone. It also abolished the requirement of security clearance to operate drones and reduced the fee to operate a drone to nominal levels.
Some previously mandated norms have been abolished under the new rules. These include a unique authorization number, a unique prototype identification number, a certificate of conformance, a certificate of maintenance, operator permits, an authorization of Research and Development organization, and a remote pilot instructor authorization.