The Hindustan Times reports that India’s civil aviation ministry will legalize the use of drones in the country by December 31, following a government-mandated period for public comment on the proposal.
The proposal looks similar to many internationally, except for the extra restrictions around the country’s border areas. As reported by the Hindustan Times, the proposed regulations allow flight except for:
Within an area of 5 km from the airport
Within permanently or temporarily prohibited, restricted or danger-prone areas, as notified by the Airports Authority of India.
Over densely populated areas or near any area where emergency operations are underway, without prior approval.
Within 50 km of the international border, and beyond 500 metres (horizontal) into sea along the coastline.
Within 5-km radius of Vijay Chowk in Delhi.
From mobile platforms, such as moving vehicles, ships or aircraft.
Within 500-metre radius of military installations and strategic locations notified by the MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs.]
Over eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries without prior permission.
Drone flight around airports is of particular concern to India, as it is around the world. In anticipation of increased drone flights when the regulations pass, government agencies are testing counter-drone technologies.
“A device designed to block the communication system of drones is currently being tested at the Delhi airport,” says the Times. “A chopper with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and National Security Guard personnel aboard will also be kept as back-up to handle emergency situations.”
“Although proposed civil aviation guidelines declare an area of five kilometres around the airport as a no-drone zone, violations cannot be ruled out. Drones are usually handled by an operator through a remote communication system. The device we are testing will block that communication system, after which the operator will have no control over the drone,” an anonymous government source told reporters.
India’s MHA – the equivalent of the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. – plans to issue regulations outlining procedures and consequences for rogue drones, but those are not yet in place.
“At this time, drones are the biggest threat to airport security. They are sighted regularly, and – at present – there are no provisions for shooting down a flying object. The CISF provides security, but no decision has been taken on who will counter aerial threats. While the aviation ministry will regulate drone movements, the MHA has to take a call on the security aspect,” said the source.
Regardless of concerns of flights around airports, the new regulations are good news for the international drone industry. India’s terrain and lack of road infrastructure in remote areas offer opportunities for their population to benefit significantly from drone technology, while their existing robust technology sector could also realize gains.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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