Mukesh Yadav, an urban planner and a member of the practice team at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and who works in the fields of urban planning, governance and policy advisory using remote sensing and GIS as a tool, writes about India’s new drone policy and why it is shortsighted.
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Here’s why India’s new drone policy is shortsighted
Mukesh Yadav writes for Scroll.in:
“It [India’s new drone policy] prescribes lax regulation of smaller remotely piloted aircraft, sparking concerns about surveillance, privacy and security.”
“India imposed a blanket ban on drones in 2014. In the following years, though, it came to be seen as impractical. So, the government crafted a regulatory policy, which came into effect on December 1.”
“While the new drone policy establishes an intricate system of application and approval procedures, it is lacking when it comes to thorough monitoring of drones. It also ignores the implications of free movement of smaller drones, which have been exempted from many of the regulatory procedures.”
“The policy classifies drones based on their “all-up weight”, or the total weight with cargo and fuel. Nano drones weigh up to 250 grams, micro drones 250 grams to 2 kg, small drones 2 kg to 25 kg, medium drones 25 kg to 150 kg, large drones upwards of 150 kg.”
“The new policy, however, exempts certain categories of drones from such regulations.”
“The policy, on the whole, appears shortsighted. It does not account for the rapid advances in artificial intelligence that could lead to unexpected applications of drones. Further, it does not contain any arrangement for resolving conflict between rival drones operations. Unless there is more clarity about the operational mechanism, vigilance and privacy, the policy will remain feeble in terms of adaptability, usage and security, hampering its overall vision.”
“India’s new drone policy can benefit from stricter rules on surveillance. In the United States, several states have placed limits on drone-based surveillance, requiring some form of a warrant from the police to operate drones. Rhode Island has proposed detailed legislation prohibiting the use of drones for facial recognition or capturing any images.”
“Such measures as well as a more comprehensive system for approving applications, renewing permits, alerting the agencies concerned to deal with emergencies, and recording the history of a vehicle can strengthen the policy’s applications. This can help India use drones effectively for not just aerial mapping but also in disaster management, traffic control, policing, security, environmental studies and agriculture.”
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Photo: An aerial view of the Taj Mahal in Agra. | Ujjwal goel2005 [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons